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The Freedom to an Opinion- Why You Need To Verify It, Justify It, Before Adopting It


 The Freedom to an Opinion- Why You Need To Verify It, Justify It, Before Adopting It


The freedom to an openoin
The freedom to an openoin 

The Freedom to an Opinion


The media, or mainstream news outlets, have always been a controversial topic amongst people, politicians, and policymakers. The issue is the lack of trust that people have with the news outlets to objectively deliver the news. This lack of trust stems from the fact that news outlets themselves tend to lack transparency with their content, while oftentimes, you can identify the bias in their rhetoric. There are several examples of when the mainstream media has let the public down, and how the platforms entrusted to provide unbiased facts, opted for a polarizing stance. 


This divide and disdain amongst regular people for the media grew even more so under the Presidency of Donald Trump. Trump is known for his fiery remarks about the media, regularly calling out their credibility and lack of impartial treatment towards him. Now, whether or not you consider what Trump is saying to be true is an entirely different discussion. But, it’s no debate that Donald Trump has sparked a fire inside a lot of people. He has opened up pandora’s box, and -at this point-  trying to restore order is like trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube.


This fanatic frenzy from regular folk to disregard the news and dismiss them as fake has led to a rising of an alternative form of media and rhetoric, which is independent news outlets. Today people will flock to you if you are a blogger, podcaster, journalist, or any sort of independent opinionated person providing news and insights on relevant topics. The beauty of it is that you can be an anonymous John Doe character reporting on your local politics, or a highly recognized, highly influential Youtube blogger with a large following analyzing a sum of subjects. Either way, you are likely to find people who will listen to what you have to say. 


Alternative Media


An opinion is a thought or a belief someone has that is usually molded by outside influences, news, and facts. Everyone has an opinion. And everyone has a right to an opinion. In today’s world, viewers and users are more and more interested in opinions. Consuming those opinions, listening to them, watching them, discussing them. Talk shows and podcasts have become a prevalent practice amongst the social media and online world, as more and more young people have resorted to expressing themselves and their opinions through these methods and practices. But it’s not all just visual and audible commentary, as independent bloggers and journalists have also opted for written text to express their opinion.


 This burst in interest for heavily opinionated content from the younger generation has paved a way for a new norm that has been dubbed as alternative media, and where it’s media from an alternative source, a different provider. One that is free from the shackles of the corporate and political world. And one that truly exercises its freedom of speech and freedom to an opinion. Slowly but surely this new form of alternative media, which started from the younger generations and through online mediums like Youtube, has spread to all ages and all characters. Even now more traditional media figures have started to innovate their approach in an attempt to position themselves amongst the younger crowd. 


The most popular form of this alternative media has to be audio or visual podcasts, which usually take the form of conversational content, or individual commentary. Through podcasts, independent bloggers have been able to gather a large audience online while providing newsworthy content and independent content at that. 


The Freedom to an Opinion


And so, that is the freedom of an opinion, that you can express it, and have people either acknowledge or dismiss it. Today more and more people value opinions that are unique, and independent of any third-party influence. Anybody can have an opinion, and be vocal about it. But today the opinion that people want to hear is the opinion that is sincere. Mainstream media outlets and platforms can be coy and cunning with their political bias, but in the end, it is very difficult to keep such a thing secret. With time, the content will shed light on the intent. And that’s why, or rather how, people begin to grow weary of a particular source. And that is also why that source tends to fail or lose popularity amongst its viewers.


The freedom of opinion is to exercise it -yes- but to also respect that power. For example, you might have the freedom to bear arms, but if you use those harms to inflict unjustified harm to someone, then you’ve abused that right. The freedom of opinion is the same thing. Opinion can be used to manipulate public thoughts, stir violence, and cause strife and violence. This is why it’s important to know when the freedom of opinion is being exercised the right way, and when it is not.


Verifying An Opinion


We’ve talked a lot about how mainstream media outlets tend to abuse the freedom to an opinion to push a certain narrative or agenda. However, alternative media outlets are just as suspect to do the same thing. That’s why as a viewer, reader, or user, it’s important to verify the source of the opinion, before completely committing to it and believing it. This is true regardless of whether or not that source is providing concrete evidence and facts. This has nothing to do with the events, rather their thoughts and opinions about those events. Keep in mind that events and facts can be altered and misconstrued to fit an opinion. 


So it’s important to know what are the intentions of this particular news source or media outlet. It isn’t difficult to do so. Anyone can carry out a simple research in order to find out the background of a particular source, and understand from what mindset or political place that source is coming from. Interestingly enough, this type of research may be even more difficult to perform on independent alternative media figures and bloggers than it is to perform on well known and well-established media outlets. A reason why is because media outlets are registered entities whose funding, partnerships, relationships, and information are made public. For example, you can know almost everything you want to know about CNN, Bloomberg, the New York Times, and other similar news sources, because their information is public and accessible, and readily made to the people. But, when it comes to independent journalism or bloggers, finding information on them can be more difficult. This is especially true if those bloggers have worked hard to remain anonymous. 


So, in conclusion, keep this in mind when receiving an opinion, or when a news story or topic is being relayed to you. You always want to know the source of the story, just like you would want to know the source of everything else you receive in life.  


Justifying an Opinion


After you’re done finding a worthy media outlet, a powerful opinion, and a verified news source, what remains is to justify that source, and see whether or not it’s a credible source. This is the last step in opinion sharing, opinion writing, and independent journalism and blogging. As a reader, it is easy to be fooled by the tons and tons of information available on the internet. Because the internet is readily available and accessed by everyone, essentially anyone can share their opinion and be backed for it. But sometimes that opinion is meant to push a personal interest or narrative, just like the mainstream media outlets, that these same users have turned away from. 


This is why it’s important to justify an opinion before completely indulging in it. One receiving someone’s opinion, first you need to ask yourself where they’re coming from. Why ask yourself this question? Because it’s very easy to be carried away with a thought or an opinion, especially on a subject you don’t know much about. You want to learn about something before you -in fact- accept it as a truth or a belief. This process isn’t necessary every time, however it is necessary early on, just so you can get an idea of the individual blogger or journalist. Justifying an opinion, and proving it to be true or valid, will help you from being swayed by the petty politics and personal agendas. After all, you are seeking independent information for the purposes of enlightenment and knowledge. It is why you decided to turn away from the prototypical news outlets and mainstream media platforms, and towards independent journalism and personal opinions. But even personal opinion can come with a caveat, that is why it is better to filter through them and agree on which ones you better agree with, and which ones are just an extension of the mainstream narrative. 


One Final Thought


Keep in mind that news and the media is an extension of the public. The news is meant to serve as the educator of facts and opinions while providing a platform for discourse and dialogue. But that same news outlet has increasingly become a place where political influence has practiced its power in shaping public opinion to its favor. Discourse is important in any society because through discourse people can come together and not fall apart. 


That’s why, in parallel to alternative media, is discourse, and maybe even alternative discourse. A place or platform where people can come together and talk about the many concerns that they have. Again, we see this practice on podcasts, which have really filled in the role as the ultimate tool for replacing mainstream media and traditional forms of news and information. That is why we must cherish discourse and preserve it instead of chipping away at it and breaking it down. A practice that has also become common recently, perhaps as a way to fight back the fake news rampage. People whose opinions aren’t deemed suitable, or within the permissible boundaries of the popular public, get labeled as bigots, and get blacklisted or “canceled”. And while some opinions may be obscene and offensive, who holds the right to cancel these opinions? Or rather, who holds the right to determine which opinion is too obscene and which one just makes the cut? 

This sort of power dips into the rights of freedom of speech and opinion. It is an interesting subject and topic, which certainly needs discussion before we move forward with reckless behavior and antics. Discussing freedom of speech and opinion and where the lines should be drawn when that opinion infringes on safety and security is important especially in todays day and age where opinion is more and more expressed with the availability of opinion through social media and the internet. 


The freedom to an openoin
The freedom to an openoin


In Closing


This article is neither an attempt to dismay public opinion about a particular topic or industry, nor is it an attempt to tell you how to live your life. It is simply practicing the point preached throughout it. Which is that the narrative of mainstream media tends to come with a heavily political asterisk beside it. As a result, more and more listeners and viewers have resorted to different forms of media, news outlets, and social and political commentary. Most notably of which would be alternative media mediums such a bloggers, independent journalists, and podcasts. Through this medium, users can access an independent opinion and commentary. However, because these alternative media outlets end up commenting and discussing politics and social issues, then they too tend to be influenced by a certain bias or background. This is why as a viewer it is your job to filter through these mediums, trying to establish their credibility and background, and settling on one that best suits your personal preference and satisfaction. 


In doing so you will have been gone through the proper steps of accessing an opinion Furthermore, you must also acknowledge the fact that the amount of opinionated people has increased dramatically due to the available access to social media and the internet, where people tend to post and exchange their opinions actively. This is why it is also important to acknowledge the new parameters of freedom of speech, and when does a certain statement or opinion exercises its right of expression, and when does it infringe on abuse, and at certain times, invoking chaos and strife. 


Given certain political and social developments around the world today, be it in developed or developing countries, and because of the opinions expressed on social media and similar outlets, this is without a doubt an issue that needs addressing through consensus discourse, instead of the laissez-faire, -figure it out as we go- approach being adopted today.


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