Of late, I have been encountering articles that are clearly opinion. There is no debate about that. There has emerged an unwritten rule in journalism that a bit of opinion is permitted in almost anything presented as a professional work of journalism. Writers like the late Hunter Thompson and Norman Mailer turned conjecture into an art form. There is even a philosophical shift underneath all this.

Reality is now understood to contain everything there is. This notion has deep roots. It means essentially that what we once divided into objective and subjective is now a muddle.

That's the way life is.

The rise of universal values

The only way to reckon with a world in which the difference between what used to be a truth and a lie is muddled is to consider the actual effects of what is done. Effects are acts and expressions. If someone says Nostradamus or some other figure in the deep past predicted Trump, this can easily be seen as conjecture. It could only be true based on a series of ultimately false suppositions.

The History Channel is a master of Supposition, often larding its hypothetical offerings, particularly religious ones, with apparent experts skilled in presenting conjecture as near certainty.

The Universal Values that need to be applied to this inevitable fudging are threefold, tolerance, helpfulness and democracy.

Evaluate everything

We need to practice tolerance of the plethora of opinions that vie for the distinction of being true and factual. Only the most rigorous standards are helpful in sorting truth and evidence from whatever the writer supposes.

We need also to consider the harm or helpfulness of media offerings. Clearly, a slur that is unfair and unmerited does both hurt and harm.

But much of the slurring that goes on is almost knee-jerk characterization based.on prejudice that has already been established.

Media slurs

A common example is to suggest that a public figure like Hillary Clinton has singlehandedly committed some sin that is clearly something that no individual could accomplish.

The format for this sort of journalism is "How So and So ruined Such and Such".

The use of hyperbolic headlines is common. So too are characterizations within articles that are on any truthful analysis unfair, Journalism that is invidious and consistently biased, appealing mainly to one or another side in a conflict, requires open recognition.

Democratic journalism

In addition to tolerating our current muddle and determining what helps and harms, we should add a third value -- democracy. It a respect for fairness and a certain iconoclasm regarding the fallibility of everyone including writers. Without this admission universally, we will not do very well in a future where reality will be more a muddle than ever.

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