Fact or Opinion? by Angela Ferraris

magnifying-glass-1607160_1920Have you noticed how many supposedly news articles are really a bunch of commentaries and opinions? The majority of news stories use to be the opposite; facts. I am hoping that there is a shift back to good journalism that reports objective news and allow us to make an opinion. I guess I am so sick of the propaganda filled big story or breaking news and newspaper owners/sites with agendas. I just want the cold hard facts. Give them to me. I can make my OWN opinion.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a place and time for commentary and opinions. I think that the letters to the editors and commentary page in a newspaper or online news source  can be interesting and even educational for one to explore how others may think. And yes, I have more of a desire to hear an expert’s informed opinion even though it is still a belief, judgement, a way of viewing information. It’s still not a fact, and  THIS is where I believe people get confused. 

Teaching fact vs opinion could get a little blurred for my students too. They often would say an opinion they agreed with was fact.

A fact is something that is true or can be proven; knowledge that is nonfiction. An opinion is someone’s view or judgement; their feelings. 

 

What I do find annoying and very insulting is when the newspaper or online news source decides to report the news in a subjective way that makes it sound like facts. They will print/release this article over and over as though saying it enough will make it a fact. That is very misleading.

I prefer objective reporting for 95% of the news. Just the facts. 

Media Monday: Primary and Secondary Sources by Angela Ferraris

When I am reading an article online or watching a news channel, I must take in account if it is a primary source or not. Is this really someone’s commentary/opinion sounding like objective news? I need to question. I want objective news, a primary source. I can make my own opinions.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are those that you should always go to FIRST. They are the  first hand accounts, authoritative, the original source, raw information, direct access. They are original records of those involved in the event, witnessed it. Examples of these primary sources are:

  • birth certificate
  • death certificate
  • marriage license
  • speeches
  • diaries
  • letters
  • interviews
  • direct quotes of those involved
  • photographs(not altered)
  • video(not doctored)
  • audio recording of an event
  • treaty
  • performances
  • artwork
  • poem
  • maps
  • advertisement
  • artifacts
  • literary books
  • magazines
  • newspapers*
  • painting
  • sculpture
  • oral tradition of myths
  • chronicles
  • memoirs
  • tools
  • document
  • music
  • ephemera(like ticket stubs, green stamps, tin  label, baseball cards, wrapper, things that were meant for a short time on paper that are usually thrown out)

I would like to interject here how important it is for our children to be taught to write cursive in order to be able to read many of the primary sources. If this is not taught, I believe it supports an illiteracy of primary sources written by hand. 

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are evaluative of the primary sources, analysis, interpretative, commentary, second-hand information.They are written second after an event occurred, are shorter, written by people who study it and are to engage a reader. To restate the works of others. Examples of these are:

  • Books about a topic
  • analysis or interpretative of data
  • Scholarly articles of those not directly involved
  • reviews of books, movies, music
  • documentaries(even if they include primary sources)
  • essay
  • biography
  • critique of a piece of work
  • graphs, charts of data AFTER the time period
  • textbooks
  • newspaper report by someone who was not present for event
  • thesis

It is important to be sure to consider that a source could be a primary or a secondary depending how it is used. 

*I am noticing a huge increase of commentary and opinions in the newspapers/news media now of an event(secondary sources) instead of showing us the event(primary source). So, when I put newspaper as primary, keep in mind that I mean reporting from a journalist that was actually there. There are more secondary reporting going on in the newspaper/news media now so they could be considered secondary in some cases.

 

Media Monday: The Propaganda Techniques in the Media are Becoming Ridiculous by Angela Ferraris

propaganda-3543257_1920

The propaganda techniques that are currently and regularly swimming in the media can be exhausting and well, a bit insulting to the mind. I know that it will get even worse with the political ads coming up in this month. A full-blown flood. The shameful letting loose of everyone’s agendas instead of just facts. 

I know I’m going to have bucketfuls of commentaries and opinions endlessly pouring over my head. How do I lighten my mood when I go to read or watch the news? Just don’t? Well, I feel like I should be on top of what is going on in my community. How do I change the way I react?

I decided to review the seven types of propaganda I learned in middle school and make a game of identifying them with my husband to see who can yell out the right answer first. I call this fun little political game, “Name That Propaganda Technique!” Just kidding; he could care less about this game. I just say them in my head. 

But why should I care? It just brings me some calmness to be able to identify the lying. “Tell the truth, and shame the devil.” Propaganda is a fancy way of bold-face lying mixed with the kind of lying when omitting essential facts. I hate propaganda. I am reading that there is good propaganda too. It’s not all bad. “Stay positive.” Yea. Uhm. A white lie is still a lie, and good propaganda is still propaganda.

Techniques

1. Name-calling(also known as trash-talking or mudslinging)

Namecallingpropagandatechniquelinks an idea or person to a negative idea or symbol

Examples–*bad words–calling someone a racist, a snowflake, a wimp, a terrorist

*negative emotions– loathing, freaking out, sleepyhead, hysterical

*Having a photo with the person’s nose greatly exaggerated with the slogan “liar” underneath to refer to the Pinocchio story of the boy’s nose growing whenever he lied

2. Glittering generality(loaded words)

glitteringgeneralitytechnique

is when a situation or organization is changed by making a bad one seem good(or a good one seem bad); used to spark emotion

Examples–*Uses a lot of superlatives such as best, healthy, beautiful

*Uses a lot of euphemisms such as poo instead of feces, tooting instead of flatulence; also phrases such as letting people go instead of firing or pass away instead of dying

*Slogans:”Yes, we can!” or “Make America Great Again!””The Happiest Place on Earth!”

3. Transfer

transfertechnique

is when the positive traits or authority of something are carried over to a person or thing. Something that people trust and respect. Can also transfer negative traits

Examples–*Uses symbols like the cross, the flag, or liberty bell or can use an association of science, education, or medical establishments

*Using “natural” on food labels to infer organic

*an actor wearing a white coat(not a doctor or scientist) and talks about masks

*Poster with the opponent throwing paper on the ground(littering is a negative)

4. Testimonial

testimonialtechniqueis having a celebrity or famous person endorse or backup an idea or person to influence others to support the product or politician. Individuals are not qualified or an expert but are using their popularity to influence. People put more trust in the testimony than the product or politician

Examples–*Weight Watchers has several celebrities in their ads.

*Wheaties cereal has a history of various athletes on their box’s front

5. Plain Folks(opposite technique called Snob Appeal)

plainfolkstechnique

is to convey and make the audience believe the politician or product too is of the people and ordinary(although many are millionaires).

There is an opposite Snob Appeal technique often associated with products that only the elite use their brand.

Examples–*There are so many political candidates/heads of industry using this technique by eating at McDonald’s or in a hard hat at a construction site.

*Snob Appeal example would be the Grey Poupon Mustard commercials where only eaten by rich guys in limos

6. Card stacking

cardstackingis manipulating or orchestrating traits or information in comparison to something else unfairly or without all of the data. Only the positive characteristics are told; often what people want to hear but not the truth.

Examples--*”If you do not believe this way, then you are wrong because I just listed all of the positive traits; how could you disagree?” (Well, none of the adverse facts were listed).

*Food advertisements often have a list of good things in the food product but do not mention in the ad that there is a higher amount of the daily sugar recommendation or MSG or where the food is produced.

7. Bandwagon

bandwagontechnique

is to convince that everyone is doing it. Don’t be left out! Be like everyone else. You should also. There is usually a rush to this.

Examples–*Under the big yellow “M” of McDonald’s, there are “billions and billions served”

*Everyone in town knows that Chicken Little is the best candidate. “Don’t you want to be on the winning team?”

Others I am not sure where to place

A. Bad logic

1 + 1 =5 concluding from just a few statements/premises without researching. Concluding something through emotion and not logical thinking. No scientific methods used.

Examples–*1. All lemons are sour. 2. All grapefruits are sour. Conclusion: All lemons are grapefruits.

*”Sugar made my children fat!”

B. Fear

feartechnique

is when there is a warning or something terrible will happen if a specific action is not followed or what should be taken to reduce that threat. This is one of those techniques that are sometimes considered a “good” propaganda.

Examples–*You can probably think of many COVID-19 fear statements made on social media without research from the scientists/doctors.

*If you do not vote for so and so, all of these bad things are going to happen (even though he/she has no power to even carry out any of these bad things).

*If you do not buy this product right now, you could get sick.

C. Scapegoating

scapegoatingtechnique

is when anything and everything is blamed on someone without proof or with bad logic or without examining the complexities involved; the person’s attributes or contributions to the greater good are not mentioned.

Examples–*A lot of time Presidents/mayors are blamed if things aren’t going perfectly

*Blaming the weatherperson for lousy weather.

*It’s all of the teacher’s fault my child is failing.

I found that I feel a bit better recognizing the deception, calling out the technique, and then releasing it into the air to float up into obliteration like a burnt letter’s embers. It’s the hardest for me, though, when I fall for the deception and allow the fear and anger to wash over me instead of sliding off. I have to learn to forgive myself for believing the garbage and just move on. Not festering on it.

I think we need to sometimes just stop and step back. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Instead of everyone showing kindness and compassion, the predators come out to take advantage of the situation. They cause chaos with unnecessary and unreasonable violence. Ruthlessly ridiculing from the sidelines of those who are actually in the arena only trying to do their best with the information they have. Calling all of those who do not believe the way they do stupid(or other names) is immature and ignorant. Just stop it. We are all just trying to figure out how to ride out this plague and not scare the bejeebers out of our children. I wish more people would try to be PURPLE. 

Next week: primary and secondary sources