Natural human interest in the salacious apparently spans at least two millennia. Virgil’s Aeneid (25 B.C.) remarks upon “rumor, than whom no other evil thing is faster.” Already in the 1860s, C.H. Spurgeon could cite as an “old proverb” the observation, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” (Even without the Internet and its 1.5 billion users.) Whereas if you want truth to go round the world, he added, “you must hire an express train to pull it.”
Most of us generally believe that “truth will out.” However, it can sometimes be a disastrously slow mover. Think of the long, gravely damaging tenure of Adolph Hitler’s propaganda machine, which closely followed the Hitlerism, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
The freedoms of speech, press, assembly and petition guaranteed by the First Amendment testify to the Founders’ judgment that the form of government they designed would require an informed, participative citizenry.
Particularly as to its press, the U.S. citizenry today is likely ill-served. Polling shows that only about 25 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in either newspapers or television news.
The Gallup polling organization noted that “perceptions of media bias present a viable hypothesis” to explain declining confidence. Little doubt is left by the increasing volume of evidence-based criticism of the U.S. news media for bias.
CCU’s strategic objectives include being seekers of truth as well as teaching students how to think for themselves and to speak and write clearly. Few areas afford a richer contemporary laboratory for delivery on these objectives than do analyses of public policy and the reporting thereof.
Further, there is likely no precedent for the rate of change underway today in media alternatives, particularly those (largely Internet-based) enabling nearly anyone so inclined to be a published reporter and/or news analyst.
The Project on News in the 21st Century will provide a valuable opportunity for participants on campus and beyond to develop as discerning citizen-consumers of news. We aspire to help fill the need identified by wSpurgeon 150 years ago for truth-pulling express trains.
 The Latin is Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius alium. http://www.answers.com/topic/a-lie-is-halfway-round-the-world-before-the-truth-has-got-its-boots-on#ixzz1QUMPKjLT
 “Spurgeon’s Gems,” p.155, http://books.google.com/books?id=WlkXAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
 http://politicalwire.com/archives/2010/08/17/confidence_in_newspapers_and_tv_news_at_near-record_low.html, and