Factualists and Opinionists: Learning the difference to begin a new method of journalism.

As someone who has written about the decline and fall of journalism, I can see the desperation and the all out "last stand" as reporters are smearing Facebook with the government smelling an opportunity to humble them, and perhaps get more out of a powerful outlet. Facebook's woes were foreseeable (not that Microsoft's nosy antics aren't getting bad press, but not quite as vicious), but the company thought a happy persona was going to be enough as was giving everyone a spiffy looking page for free. It works until it doesn't.

It works until you make one enemy too many.

People heard the warnings for years, but didn't care. I still don't care because snooping is a fine old tradition of the human race. You are never going to get away from it; so learn how to deal with it without complacent resignation. There is a fine line between safety and interference.

Everything is a balance, but when you have competition from control freaks who wish to one-up everyone else, extremism begins to creep in.

How does that extremism become acceptable?

One way is simple: opinion is mistaken as fact. If you have facts, you can find the balance for competing interests. Having a few holding all of the wealth and power, for example, is not good for the majority, but when someone tries to restore the balance, there are endless arguments against it.

Endless opinions against it.

We have an overload of opinion. The Fox News Channel has nothing but opinion, as I outlined in OutFoxed...but so does CNN and CNBC. I don't pretend there is an actual US news channel left.

They provide opinion, but not facts. When you have facts, you have knowledge and a clearer picture of what the reality is at the moment.

Canada, for instance, is a country that is broke on every level: personal, municipal, provincial, and federal. Many corporations may seem to be doing well, but only because they get money from the government to operate -- take away the corporate welfare, and they collapse. Or they misuse the government in other ways -- from not paying their share of taxes, lobbying to allow price gouging, or clogging up the courts with endless lawsuits, as the late Barry Sherman did. They may jack up prices, or have cushy contracts with the government. In any case, if we factor out the government propping, how well would these companies actually fare?

We need facts. We need data and evidence. We allow for creative accounting, but if we look at the bottom line, we get a clear picture of what is truly going on.

Journalism self-destructed because it drifted away from giving facts. It always was taken in with narrative and sway.

Eventually, journalists became opinionists. 

They became people who hid facts and replaced it with decrees and insults.

It is the reason they recoil at a notion that their industry should be licensed. They want the right to spew opinion in order to rig outcomes. That is not the purpose of journalism. It is simply to inform with facts.

Journalists should have always been factualists.

Just the facts. Who is in charge? What are their qualifications? What is their plan? Why is this their plan? How will it be implemented? When and where can we expect it to happen?

It is dry, straightforward, and succinct. You are not to be told that a country of thirty-plus million have a nation with one trillion dollars market debt is a good or bad thing. You are told that Canada has a market debt of one trillion dollars.

Then you are given some idea of how other nations fare, accounting for population size and resources.

Of course, it is common sense that a country with a modest population that has a staggering debt is a bad thing, but people will try to explain it away. They will offer opinions on it -- that it is not a big deal, the country and handle it, and it will all work out in the end.

Factualists provide the data testing the theory. We can test it in numerous ways. Is it manageable -- or is it manageable under specific circumstances? Are there circumstances where it will implode? Are these factors in play as we speak? Could an outside force manipulate the situation to use our debt against us?

In Ontario, the debt is just as bad, with the reigning regime promising to spend even more billions for free daycare for people...and yet people who are disabled are unable to get in-home care. The campaign promise hinges on there being actual jobs for both parents to take -- and those jobs have to be well-paying enough for the government to recoup their money by taxing that couple -- and should those taxes go up, how long before the advantages of free daycare become disadvantages as people struggling to make ends meet -- even if they are a two-income family?

This is the same government that raised the minimum wage without adding other checks and balances in place -- if hours are cut, and jobs are lost -- and people are lose that extra money to the government, then how much better off are they in the long run? This isn't to say I don't agree with hiking the minimum wage, but you don't just increase the price and then expect everyone to play along with the rules without trying to regain their advantage some other way.

When policy is based on pandering to a bribable electorate, someone eventually has to pay the price.

And if we have small businesses that cannot sustain a wage increase, then we have to see why that is the case: if we have people who cannot run a successful business, they may be victims of the climate, or they just may be inadequate business people, and if they are inadequate, it is still a real problem. It means the educational system has failed them.

If it is outside forces, we have to examine the rigs that keep destroying otherwise viable businesses.

We don't actually know the answer because we do not have facts to tell us.

We do not need academia to tell us. We need people who can empirically set up and test various hypothesis, and then tell the rest of us the results. Is it a combination of factors? Are people in the region too broke and cannot buy anything? Is it poor communications on the part of businesses? Is it employees who have no customer service skills because they taking selfies on the job?

A factualist will give us a rundown of all of those factors, not just pick a side, and then spin a narrative to make it seem it is just The One Thing.

Is the success because of the Great Man? Or just the novelty? Usually, journalists have elevated mundane men as Great Men, and then everyone puts their eggs in his basket, and he cannot carry the load because it was just spin all along.

If we have facts, we can make better decisions base on what we want and need.

Opinion is cheap. There is no need to licence an opinionist.

But to train factualists takes finesse and removing sophistry from their bag of tricks.

In that, I believe factualists should getting accredited training, but not from a university per se, but an educational institution that provides innovative and experimental guidance in empirical adlibture. Universities know how to research in their ivory towers, not in the rough and tumble ways of the streets.

That's the problem we face, and have faced all along. We need trained factualists who can conduct impromptu experiments as carefully as they can conduct long-term experiments to understand reality.

Opinion -- everyone has got them. What we are missing is facts.

And journalism cannot deliver it because they have been corrupted by the ease of opinion.

It didn't work, and now let's start fresh from scratch.