Fake News?

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Nobody likes it! But how do you know it’s fake news unless you know what the real news is?

Jerry Seinfeld quipped one day not too long ago, “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.” Really? Somebody must be leaving something out. So who chooses what is news and what isn’t, and what’s real and what isn’t?

It’s not really a tough choice to make. Here’s a news flash that everybody in the news business already knows: Bad news almost always sells more and gets higher ratings than good news.

So, who made that choice? That’s easy. You and I made that choice – because that’s what we buy.

Now here’s the hard question, or maybe it is an easy question with a hard answer. What are you and I going to do, what decisions will we make, if all we hear – all we buy – is the bad news?

Probably, we’ll make bad decisions, or at least decisions that are not well enough informed. As a result, we might become pessimists and maybe even a little paranoid. And then we decide it must all be fake news, something foisted on us by people with bad motives.

A recent Pew Research poll suggests “…on a national scale changes in [news] coverage tend to mold public interest rather than vice versa. If so, journalists must be especially cognizant of their influence on not only opinions about the news, but also on what is considered news.”

You see, half of the news – the bad half alone – isn’t news at all. It’s fake news.

So here’s the Good News: Good News is good… and we can chose it any time we want it. Good news is like adding a sizzling, juicy steak to those boring veggies and smashed potatoes on our daily news platter. Unless you ask for it, you’re not getting your money’s worth.

This week the Jamestown Gazette invites you to sample some especially good news about Jamestown – which is actually the same policy we’ve followed since our issue #1 in April of 2011.

This is Good News gone viral, as it should. Cortney Linnecke’s cover story this week is important. That’s not only because it is a really cool piece of locally handmade video that does a world of good for local pride and it’s flying across the Internet like an Olympic bobsled. It is also, quite simply, the rest of the news and people are loving it.

“This video is my love letter to the area,” said Kipp Reynolds, one of the creators of “Hello Jamestown 2017”. “When you’re from Jamestown, the tendency is to say, ‘I can’t wait to get out of here!’ But after living abroad and travelling the country, you appreciate what this area has. That’s kind of what happened to me.”

Hello Jamestown 2017 is the antidote to those of us who know everything bad there is to say about our city. We can quote sad statistics, troubling demographics and name the names of city servants they think are incompetent. But that is fake news simply because it is not all the news.

Since starting to work with the Jamestown Gazette nearly 6 years ago I have been given about 50 opportunities every year to find and report on the good news about Jamestown. And it has not been hard. Our policy about good news is evident, for example, in this week’s I Love My Hometown by Mary Beth Southwick on page 2, and in the Everyday Hunter column by Steve Sorenson on page 11. He’s dropping some well delivered “truth bombs” on some of the old, fake news people have bought about the world of our wildlife.

“…we live in a day where eye-traffic is all-important,” Steve said. “Even though information travels faster and farther than ever before, the spread of information still has its limits. Many people miss it until it comes around again [as misinformation]—ordinary truths are made sensational and old news is delivered with dramatic elements designed to attract new eyes.”

Please log on to YouTube and type in Hello Jamestown 2017. Be reminded once again of the rest of the wonderful story that is us.

In fact, we think you’ll find it to be the real story, the real news, about Jamestown, New York.

Enjoy this special ad for our community and our closest friends and neighbors. And, of course, enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.