Scandal and Allegation: Is It News or Just Gossip?

Sex scandals and harassment allegations seem to be all the rage these days. From the accusations made against Roy Moore to the misadventures of news anchor Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein before them, and now Senator Al Franken and a host of others, America seems to be awash with salacious allegations against public figures of every kind.

The idea of the media trying people in the so-called court of public opinion is nothing new. The media has long enjoyed playing the roles of prosecutor, judge, jury, and sometimes the executioner that ends political careers. But is every scandal and allegation really news, or is it just gossip at best, slander at worst, and generally a distraction from the weightier matters that we should be paying attention to?

Perhaps we should first ask the question, “what is news?” I have long contended that real news should be defined as “actionable intelligence,” that is to say, factual information about the affairs of our society, and the greater world around us, presented in a manner that enables us to correctly understand, and intelligently interact with, both our society and the world at large. Continue reading “Scandal and Allegation: Is It News or Just Gossip?”