Post-Truth Politics and Post-Factual News

These days, it is nearly impossible to not stumble upon the buzz words “post-factual news” and “post-truth politics.”

Many journalists, scientists and politicians claim that we live in a time where emotions are more important than facts and reasonable arguments. For me, this view is very dangerous. It gives people the permission to end any kind of discussion. It keeps progressive programs and policies on hold. For instance, there are many people who still think that women should not be emancipated because they have the feeling that women are too weak for powerful positions. And some people feel afraid of foreigners because they have heard some worrying stories about them. So, they think that it is better if all foreigners stay far away. Interestingly, these people can only find positive “natural-given” attributes for their own groups because their own groups are the best ones.

Objectivity

Scientists know that there is no objectivity. They can present their facts, but their experiments and standpoints are shaped by their methods, theories and historical circumstances. That’s why many other scientists can and should disagree with them.
It does not matter if the ideas of Kant, Foucault, Copernicus or Einstein are not relevant anymore. The importance is that they found out something and other scientists could keep on working with their ideas. Nietzsche once said:

There are no facts, only interpretations.

Fake news

There is no free press if politicians are allowed to shut down journalists by calling them “fake news.” I don’t deny that the media reports false information and that journalists have certain opinions about a person, or a party. I actually think that this is what the media is all about: different perspectives, various standpoints. And people can decide what kind of news are true, relevant or reasonable for them.

Someone who calls certain media outlets “fake”, thinks that there is some kind of ultimate truth out there. However, the media is owned by people, produced by people and consumed by people. It is culturally constructed, such as nation states, political parties, identities, and everything else that was created by human beings.
Even though many journalists have the noble goal to search for the truth and to report about something as objective as possible, this goal can never be accomplished. News outlets have agendas, and news are framed. And this counts for every news outlet, not only for some of them!
“Free press” means that all journalists can report what they want. The readers can decide if they believe them and they can compare different media outlets.

If politicians, political parties or governments decide what is true and false in this world, we have to work harder to find our own truth.

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Author: Jen

Hello! My name is Jen. I'm a German student and writer. I created this blog to share my travel experiences, photography and poetry with the world!

10 thoughts on “Post-Truth Politics and Post-Factual News”

  1. Completely agree with you. To me, one way to solve this problem is to gather view of as many intellectuals, scientist and think tanks as possible on given matter. It will remove the bias of matter and expose truth from false.

  2. What I’ve observed, Jen, is that there is very little factual reporting. Media content seems to be about increasing viewership/readership and market share. So instead of simply reporting facts and allowing the public to form an opinion, media presents points of view to mold the audience’s thinking. With the overload of information available, the public has become a consumer of information with little discernment and processing of content. It will change, of course. That’s just where I see it now. 😉 xoxoM

    1. Thanks for your comment, Margarita. I agree that the media is mostly concerned with selling their products, and unfortunately, influences the readers at the same time. I really hope that it will change. I think bloggers are also a great new source of information and should participate more in the discussions.

  3. I think you wrote a thoughtful post. However, I would like to add that it is the erosion of standards (call them manners…) that has led to the erosion of respect for the facts.
    I for one think even using terms such as Post-Truth and Post-Factual are coresponsible for the erosion of a necessary and uncontested fourth power. It legitimizes the notion that everything can be questioned.
    I see this as a great mistake made by the (U.S:) media during the Trump campaign while they were cynically chasing sensational headlines.
    The facts are not variable, the interpretation is, of course. To allow someone to talk about the lying (or whatever) media uncontested invites more attacks. We need more backbone, more pushback! The german term is “streitbare Demokratie” and stands for fighting what you believe in. In English, you will call out your opponent and make him stand and deliver.
    I believe Post-Truth and Post-Factual notions of a societal exchange are dangerous and need to be opposed with every democratic fiber we can muster, politics, the courts, the media, everything.
    Alex

    1. Thanks for your comment, Alex. I agree with your statement. The media should have certain standards or ethics in reporting. But I am also wondering if the audience is interested in facts and fair discussions. For instance, many newspapers and magazines have lowered their standard in Germany because this is what their readers wanted to read and pay for. I think both sides, the media and the desire of the masses to read “entertaining” headlines are responsible for this dilemma.

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