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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Opinion: Truth in a Changing World

Alex Scruggs | News Editor


Being relayed relevant information and knowing what’s going on in your community is a service that will always be required. Since the 1600s newspapers, like the Mace & Crown, have provided this service. It’s no secret that printed newspapers are dying out, and have been since the rise of the internet. But of course, this doesn’t mean that we have to abandon our ideals of staying current.

As the Mace & Crown makes its transfer from weekly newspaper to quarterly magazine, I thought it would be a good idea to explore the role of journalism in our changing world – and question whether things pertaining to the press are really changing that much.

30 years ago, it was almost a ritual for some people in the morning. Waking up, brewing some coffee and reading the news. The idea of starting your day with gaining a greater understanding of current issues seems like second nature to people who like to stay informed.

I’m sure it’s not news to anyone that what played a large role in the ritual from 30 years ago becoming obsolete today is smartphones.

The common morning ritual now is waking up and checking your phone. Along with missed texts and social-media updates, updates from journalism and news organizations can be found on the internet and their respective apps. This means that entire articles, old and new, can be read on a single apparatus.

To a large extent, this new way of living is highly beneficial. We can pick what we want to read, when we want to read it. We can look up information almost instantly, and there’s a lot more coming out daily than can be found in the daily newspapers. However, this presents a potential down-side to staying current.

Those who subscribe to large publications such as the Post and the Times know that what they read is on the very credible end of the news spectrum. This is because large publications are widely read and therefore greatly scrutinized. While browsing the internet or Facebook, one comes across several news sites. Some big, some small, some old and some new. But with the potential for anyone to post articles and stories to some publications online, how do we know what is credible? “Fake news” isn’t a recent fad tied to our country’s new president ravaging a war against the main-stream media, it’s the result of anyone being able to post something online and call it news.

If being widely read leads to a publication being greatly scrutinized, what does that say about the thousands of online “news sites” that don’t have a large following? It says that the pressure is lower for them to get it right. To find and cite credible sources that back their claims.

I like to keep up with the big publications and news sites for that reason alone, the search for credibility is always ongoing, but it helps when there are thousands of readers like myself keeping these publications in check.

When reading a news story on a smaller site, there are several strategies which can be implemented to determine if the article bears a majority of truth. In my opinion, the most effective albeit time-consuming strategy is to surf around. If you read a seemingly big story on a smaller news site, check elsewhere on the internet and find the same story presented by different sites. Once a story breaks, whether local, national or international, several publications will be there to provide readers with their take. If other stories present the information in a similar way, you can be more confident that the news is credible.

This strategy would be difficult to implement on campus, however, as the Mace & Crown is the only news source focused on ODU. Don’t turn your nose at us though. Remember that staying informed within community issues gives you the ability to involve yourself and interact with campus from a more current perspective.

With the magazine coming soon and the newspaper out the door, some may be worried about the Mace’s weekly dose of news turning into quarterly feature-stories. There have always been, and will always be feature stories in the Mace. What better way to relay news to readers than tying them in with members of the community and telling a story? But just as feature stories will always have a place with the Mace, so will hard and breaking news. Stories within all beats, including breaking news, will continue to be published on the Mace & Crown website between magazine issues.

As the campus’ only dedicated news source, we have a responsibility to relay the truth in a timely and credible way to members of the community. Although our world is changing, the need to stay current will never die out. It has remained since the beginning of journalism. I look forward to working on and helping complete our first issue of the new magazine, just as I look forward to continuing the publishing of breaking news on our website. Changes are a part of our world. Stay current, stay involved and stay skeptical. Never stop searching for the truth.