Answer: A newspaper!
Ok, ok. I know the riddle is totally wrong for three reasons:
- I cheated... the word red should have been spelled read, which would have given it away, but the riddle was meant to be spoken, not written.
- Today, newspapers aren't only black and white but filled with color. (The riddle goes way back to my second grade and I laughed that lunchtime I heard it 'till milk came out of my nose.)
- What's a newspaper?
Most millennials and later-born get their news on line or on television... the news-lite version that is more-to-the-minute but of less substance and range, unless you count the entertainment portion an news one has to know. It is also less dependable as news because it is mixed with every opinion on everything from everyone on social media... most of which is believed without doubt if it fits your personal 'bent.'
Social media didn't invent 'fake news' but it did perfect its widespread dissemination.
This past week, a New York Times technology writer's story, "For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Papers. Here's What I Learned," painted a most interesting picture of what happens when newspapers fall out of our life-view.
No, this is not a call to go back to newspapers, though that would certainly improve news credibility. We have passed that point in our technology-enhanced existence. But yes, newspapers still play a vital role if only as bell-weathers of the news basics with the five 'Ws' and an 'H' (Who, What, Why When, Where and How) of substance.
With the proven realization that fake news spreads faster than real news--usually, it is more spectacular or surprisingly hard to believe, yet believed and spread by a 3 to 1 ratio on social media with a tap of the finger--all news becomes suspiciously less credible.
We create the world we live in and yet, we are the ones who don't take out the garbage that comes with it. As our president might tweet: "SAD!"
NEXT: How easily fake news is created. A primer you will recognize.