In a time of constant arguments between political parties, people need to find the facts.
Scrolling through social media, one can find an array of extravagant and fascinating stories — but the problem arises that most of these stories are fabricated or not true at all. Frequently, journalists put their feelings in their stories or information they are handed and accept it without question.
“It’s very important that journalists have a good background,” said Gary Lane, Senior international correspondent for CBN News and International News director.
Lane has covered a lot of political and local news at CBN International and has traveled to about 120 countries. He has also covered the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as coverage of the Reagan White House.
“Through all this, I would say having that background in political science and history helps you understand the context of what you’re reporting,” said Lane.
Research before an interview
Having that prior knowledge can help journalists to stand out and really dig deep during an interview.
“I only minored in journalism and English, I have a double major in political science and history,” said Lane. “It’s very importance for aspiring journalists today to be well-rounded and have that type of background, because when you go out to report, you need to understand what you’re reporting about.”
This lack of understanding can lead to journalists just accepting what they’re told, not looking further into the situation.
“There’s little attention to depth,” said Lane. “And that’s where, if you’re a journalist, you can get into the nitty gritty, down deep, maybe do some investigative reporting. That’s lacking, I don’t see a lot of investigative reporting.”
Readers don’t encourage questioning
Investigative reporting entails more than just writing skills, as digging deeper requires analytical and critical thinking skills. Many don’t see the need to dig deeper, though, due to their readership not caring about the credibility of their statements.
“With all the emphasis on social media, I wonder how much of that anyone actually reads when you post something,” said Lane. “If it’s got a good headline, a lot of people are just sharing it and have never even read it.”
Many people who get their news from social media like to feel informed on a subject without having read a single article about it, just a headline. This information is enough for them, though.
In popular Netflix original television show Stranger Things, conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman, played by actor Brett Gelman, claims that people don’t care to dig deeper and uncover what people are trying to hide.
“People don’t spend their lives trying to get a look at what’s behind the curtain,” said Gelman. “They like the curtain. It provides them stability, comfort, definition.”
It’s this feeling of stability and contentment that seems to encourage a fear of the unknown.
“It really takes someone who thinks critically and wants to uncover the truth,” said Lane. “Then you have to work hard to do that. You can’t just sit behind a computer, you have to go out and put your feet to the street, talk to people, meet people, look at documents, file FOIA requests and information act requests, get documents from government agencies.”
Lane encourages new reporters to go beyond what they are told.
“It takes a lot of hard work, but I would say the best thing you could do is not take things at surface level,” said Lane. “Be skeptical in what you’re told, look into it, and find the truth, find the facts. Dig. Otherwise you’re just putting out gossip.”
Shelly Slocum is a Staff Writer for The Daily Runner.