When Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings recently retired, it marked the end of an era. That sounds far more grandiose than intended, but for many years it was these three anchormen whom we trusted for our news. Then the internet came along.
It can be argued that these three trusted newsmen stepped aside in part as an acknowledgement of the internet as a news source which is real, credible, and vital, reaching far more people than network news could ever hope to reach. And in today's world of "embedded journalists" and sensationalized and partisan cable TV "news", the internet remains the source for every side of every news story from every part of the world. You won't get that from cable TV or from the corporate-run American mainstream media. While cable and mainstream media entertain, internet sources inform. Those who have yet to grow beyond cable or mainstream media dismiss the internet as a playground for wackos, because they do not understand it, and people always fear what they do not understand.
Of course, there will always be wackos and crazies on the internet, but branding the entire internet as a giant den of conspiracy theorists is both irresponsible and highly innaccurate. Quite simply, the internet is the single largest source of information ever available, period. That information includes conspiracy theorists, absolutely, but they are greatly outnumbered by credible news sources from all over the world. As a whole, the internet is a reflection of society itself, and society will always have its share of loonies, but it would be grossly naive to therefore brand all of society as being loony. The same is true of the internet.
Agreeing that there is at least a little inherent bias in every source, nonetheless the internet provides an important opportunity for us to guage world opinion with every story being reported. Relying on only one or two news sources guarantees that your views will be shortsighted, and the internet provides the remedy. With each story, you have access to England's report, Australia's report, Russia's report, Iran's report, etc.
Additionally, you have access to editorial opinions from all over the world.
From there, you have access to ongoing discussions among the people of
cities and countries all over the world, exchanging thoughts and ideas about current events. You won't get that anywhere on cable TV or in the American mainstream media.
Some of the most important websites on the internet today are the independent news websites, those who have no corporate interests and no party line to toe. Again, there are the fringe websites, the crazies and the loonies, but it isn't difficult to wade through these to find the credible independent websites. Some are massive, some are very small, but all of them are determined to expose us to news that we would never see anywhere else.
Never before have we had a chance to form a more well-rounded opinion of current events. We didn't have this opportunity in the heyday of network news. Back then, the "big three" gave us all we were going to get.
Far from being one big conspiracy theory, the independent news sources on the internet are the single most important segment online today. In fact, nowhere else do you have access to every side of every story being reported everywhere around the world. To avoid this opportunity, or to pass it off with uninformed labelling, shows either an unbelievable ignorance or a conscious desire for a shortsighted opinion.
More than likely (because this article is posted here), you are presently at a website that is read by people who have seen beyond the fluff and spin of cable TV "news", and you probably often visit this website and others like it. That makes you someone with a well-rounded opinion. When you hear someone else throw a "conspiracy theory" blanket over the internet, you probably just met someone who watches Fox (Faux) News. Invite them over to your house for a cup of coffee and a clue.
Steven A. Hass