The vital existence of news media endorses that society constructs humanity. The confusion of agreements and disagreements on news is the validation of the incident or the concerned people. Which news should gain the limelight and which one is pushed to the small column of a highly ranked political newspaper is decided by society’s interest. It will not be too soon to say that the reality we inhabit is wallpaper designed by society and for society.
News media, like language, is a medium of communication among different people and society. However, cultural theories have established that language constitutes the world around us, and that language itself is constructed by human minds. In other words, how we see is what we see. Through this analogy, news media is another constructed medium of communication through which society constructs reality. Constructed reality inevitably questions what the real is because the real is weighed down by the ideological and hierarchical constructs of society. John P. Wihbey, a Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University defines these separated realities as a Social Fact and Empirical Fact.
News media has now extended its stage from television and newspapers to the digital platforms. Facebook and Twitter have become the most popular and politicised form of news media. Any news reported by the journalist gains huge popularity when it is posted on these media handles. It is as enthusiastically supported by a community as badly trolled by another. According to Wihbey, a news that is circulated on Facebook or Twitter is always enveloped in the poster’s opinion about the news. It never reaches people as the unfiltered and original report of the incident. This form of ‘modified’ or ‘overtly politicised’ version of a news Whilbey terms as Social Fact. While the original incident reported by a journalist that is politicised only in the last instance is the Empirical Fact. However, there is also a possibility that the ‘originality’ is contingent on the ideology of the reporter and the writer. The real is always lost in the perspective of the reader and the writer. Wihbey says that journalism is facing a challenge of the clash between Social Fact and Empirical Fact; It is important for the journalists to overcome this challenge which requires a reinvention of news media.
It is not possible to choose between Social and Empirical Facts. Empirical Facts are the marker of authenticity in journalism while the Social Fact is the interest of the public that news media has to serve. If the Social Facts are concentrated upon, the authentic news will be lost in the polarity of opinions about it. If only the authenticity is followed, the news will lose its potential of attracting the public and the possibility of bringing a change. Therefore, Wihbey suggests a plan for reinvention in which the journalists should provide the context of the story being reported, and not just the points and counterpoints without analysis. They need to adapt to the digital network, understand the interest of the public and thereby not ignore the possible polarities a story might initiate. However, providing a context of the story gives access to, and analysis of both for and against, and behind and beyond the story. This allows a wider ground for the public to decide what they want to believe without undermining the authentic reality. After all, society believes in its own beliefs; simply that the beliefs need to be well grounded, empirically.