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In 2017, I Hereby Resolve

Updated on January 1, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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2016 is over - thank goodness!

2016 has been a year of intense debate, opposing opinions even between friends and family, and outright rage among strangers. Personally, I’ve had enough. In anticipation of a new year and a clean slate, these are my HubPage resolutions:

  1. I will not respond to any hubber who uses labels for people, or outright calls other writers names (even if it is only “people like you).
  2. I will not attempt to explain verifiable facts in the comments section of HubPages. If someone denies proven facts, there is really no purpose served in trying to change their mind.
  3. I will not comment (and will try to avoid reading) any hub on a subject when sources are not published. It is as much my responsibility as anyone else's not to contribute to the spread of false news.
  4. I will commit to encouraging hubbers more than I argue with them.
  5. And, as my Mother tried to teach me, if I can’t say anything nice . . .

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So where do we go from here?

For fellow hubbers who would like to shed the dead skin of 2016, let me share some information about determining the legitimacy of sources that I’ve learned is not the common knowledge I once assumed it was. (I forget everybody else hasn't necessarily studied Journalism.)

Facebook made this statement recently: "Under the new system, when Facebook users attempt to post a story that Poynter-affiliated fact checkers have rebutted, they'll get a pop-up saying, "Before you share this story, you might want to know that independent fact-checkers disputed its accuracy." If the user opts to go ahead, the post will still appear on their friends' News Feeds, but it will be tagged with red danger-style signal indicating its veracity is in dispute — with a link to a fact checker's debunking." This decision comes after Facebook received heated criticism for its role in spreading a deluge of political misinformation during the 2016 presidential election, like one story that falsely said the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump. - Politico


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The curious reader should ask who or what are Poynter-affiliated fact checkers?

To answer that question you have to go back about 40 years. A man named Nelson Poynter was the publisher of a newspaper in St. Petersburg, Florida. He believed strongly that independent journalism published to standards of excellence could help a community to prosper and a democracy to flourish. In 1975 he founded the Modern Media Institute and changed his will so that upon his death (only three years later) his new school would own controlling stock of the St. Petersburg Times Company. His purpose in taking this step was to protect his publications from the demands of the Wall Street-own chains and the family syndicates that were buying up and consolidating an alarming number of formerly independent newspapers across the country.

Today Mr. Poynter’s little newspaper is known as the Tampa Bay Times, one of Florida’s largest daily papers, and is renown as one of America’s best. His idea for a school to teach editorial principles is now known as the Poynter Institute. It has established an international reputation for being a center for journalism excellence. Its Web site, Poynter.org, is a recognized source for information and news about journalism and states “We are an independent, nonpartisan news organization. We are not beholden to any government, political party, or corporate interest. We are proud to be able to say that we are independent journalists. And for that, we thank Nelson Poynter.”

Neil Brown, executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times, launched PolitiFact in August 2007. It only took two years of operation for PolitiFact to win the Pulitzer Prize. "The use of probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web is used to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters." - Pulitzer Board

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Since 2009, PolitiFact.com has selected one political statement from each year to be the "Lie of the Year".

2009 - the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 would lead to government "death panels" that dictated which types of patients would receive treatment.– Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

2010 - the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act represented a "government takeover of healthcare". – some opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

2011 - a 2011 budget proposal by Congressman Paul Ryan, entitled The Path to Prosperity and voted for overwhelmingly by Republicans in the House and Senate, meant that "Republicans voted to end Medicare". - the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)

2012 - President Obama "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China" at the cost of American jobs. - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

2013 - "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it". - President Barack Obama.

2014 - "Exaggerations about Ebola", referring to 16 separate statements about the Ebola virus being "easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy". - various commentators and politicians.

2015 - "Various statements" made by 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Politifact found that 76% of Trump's statements that they reviewed were rated "Mostly False," "False" or "Pants on Fire".

“Honestly,” Paul Horner, one of the creators of fake news, told the Washington Post recently, “people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore—I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it.”

Is This Us?

Sources for this hub

Sources: Politifact, the Poynter Institute, the Pulitzer Prize Board, Wikipedia, the Federalist, the National Review, Aaron Sorkin, the Washington Post.

Time to ask ourselves:

Do you think you've been taken in by false facts in the last year?

See results

"I have no pain left for anything. I gave at the office."

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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Random use of ALL CAPS. Lots of exclamation points!!!!!! These are a couple of signs that the news story you're reading may not be real. - Boston Globe

      Also true of HubPages.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Good hub, Kathleen. The early part of 2016 was horrific for my family, but the latter part (though extremely busy) has been an improvement and looks promising leading into 2017. I can honestly say I wasn't taken in by any of those false facts, but it helps that I'm not a US citizen. :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Jodah: Being one degree removed is probably helpful. Sorry 2016 got off to a horrid start but glad the future looks promising. Happy New Year.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I love your resolve. For the most part, I have stayed out of the arguments. I can honestly say I have never participated in name-calling or ugly speak online. It's just not worth my time and accomplishes absolutely nothing.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Billy - you are not the type. Since I vowed to keep my politics off Facebook where my personal friends and family interact with me, I have to admit, I've let it rip on HP. I'd hoped to elevate the debate here, but some debaters will not be elevated no matter what. So I'm redefining my purpose here. Merry!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      An update - 12/18/16

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 7 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great read.

      Things like verifiable facts being denied by readers just drive me crazy, lol. Probably best to just leave them alone.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great example of the problem.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I just noticed that 40% of my viewers do not think they have been taken in by false news this year. I find that disheartening. I'm afraid those are the folk who are at the most in danger of believing false news.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      That stat is not changing. May be the worst news I've heard that is real.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 6 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Added a new video, which I hope to be my mantra for 2017. "I spent my misery years ago."

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 6 months ago

      I love facts and as much as I hope people will atleast admit them when they exist. You are fighting a battle against lunatics who will defend their agendas until they no longer know what the truth is. You are asking people to be problem solvers and to admit where things went wrong. You are asking people who have no power to actually change anything to have enough common sense to realize its not our problem. Most of us could not afford health care before the affordable care act. None of us voted for the affordable care act. The government can not afford health care, especially when its running 2 or 3 hundred percent profits. In the end we have a big problem and cost is the problem. Now everyone agree and clap their hands. After that everyone is just going to have to fight about it and blame some political party. Guess what there is no reason for me to fight with anyone, because I really can not do anything about it.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 6 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Sanxuary: Thanks for your thoughtful addition to this hub. Happy New Year!

    • jo miller profile image

      jo miller 5 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks for writing this, Kathleen. I am very concerned that legitimate news sources are often not believed. The problem is that those who believe fake news may not see this because they don't won't to hear it. This year I have been voicing my political beliefs on facebook because I want to confront some of the false news stories. I try to be selective about what I post and never share anything I think looks suspicious, and I know I have alienated some.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 5 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I've had the same experience. I try to keep my opinions on HP. But when I confront blatant inaccurate statements, I can't just let them stand unchallenged. I feel a responsibility to provide sources or ask for them when they are missing.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      I've learning not to take media news for granted. Your article is an interesting read--both your resolution and the facts you share.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      MsDora: It's a compliment to hear from you. Thanks for the read and the comment.

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