I grew up watching the “CBS Evening News” with anchorman Walter Cronkite. When he signed off for the last time in 1981 with his signature “And that’s the way it is,” I was already familiar with Dan Rather who became the next anchorman. I was an avid “60 Minutes” viewer and saw Mr. Rather on the show most Sunday evenings. When I learned that he was scheduled to participate in the Presidential Lecture Series, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to see him in person.
As I listened to his presentation, a couple of points resonated with me. He said, “This is a difficult time for journalism, it is a difficult time for consumers of journalism—most recently because we have moved into the post-truth political era, an era when we are asked to read facts that aren’t facts—what some are calling alternative facts. This is not a political statement, it’s not an ideological statement, it’s a statement of common sense that facts are facts. Two plus two equals four. Two plus two equals five is not an alternative fact...”
I found myself thinking about the excitement, as well as the challenge, I might encounter today if I was still teaching at the University. Each term my students were asked to read current articles and relate them to topics we covered in class. I wondered how I would help my students approach topics such as “fake news” and “alternative facts.”
Surely, I would be creative and provide them with learning experiences that would help them continue to sharpen their critical thinking skills and become better consumers of information.
Yes, for a brief moment it felt good to have my teacher’s hat on once again (without the papers to grade)!