This year, Pacific NW magazine will explore the concept of truth: in social, cultural, historical and interpersonal realms.

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The Truth.

While it’s the permanent foundation of what we do (as evidenced by this inspiring and enduring statue in the lobby of The Seattle Times building), these days, it almost seems a tenuous concept. One person’s truth might not be another’s. And some people just ignore the truth if they don’t like it.

Beginning with this week’s cover story by Jon Talton, Pacific NW will explore the concept of truth — in social, cultural, historical and interpersonal realms — as our magazine theme for 2019. Why does the truth matter? How do we know it when we see it? Why do we lie, or exaggerate, or hide facts?

There’s more information out there than ever, but much of it is wrong. (Thanks, internet.) Social media offers a platform for all sorts of truth-stretching, or truth-denying, or flat-out lying, much of it anonymous.

We’re divided politically, you might have heard. How can people reach different conclusions about the same set of facts? What can we, or should we, make of political advertising?

What is the media’s role in all of this, as fact-checkers, truth-tellers? Has it changed? Should it? Why are the same news stories covered so differently by “conservative” or “liberal” organizations?

Have we lost the ability to reason, evaluate, think critically? Our search for truth, and its elusiveness, has created plenty of work for influencers, and whistleblowers, and “experts” on everything.

Does science matter? Data? Reality?

Here’s a (teeny-tiny) version of this problem: As I was writing this, I checked the definition of “biweekly,” which I was using in another story. I assumed it meant every other week, but I wanted to be sure. You know what the definition of “biweekly” is?

Occurring every two weeks OR occurring twice a week.

What!? That’s just stupid. Seriously, how can both of those be right? Which is THE TRUTH? I can imagine an editor stepping in to settle the hotly contested debate at Merriam-Webster: “Oh well, screw it; let’s just say it means either.”

See what I mean? (In case you were wondering, I wrote “every other week.”)

So many questions. So much truth. This year, we’ll examine why, when and how the concept has become so contentious. Honest.