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Editor’s Note: Context

Fake news, biased reporting, conspiracy theories, social media manipulation—the global information system enabled by the Internet and emboldened by bad actors is difficult to trust in the best of times. During a global crisis, it can be downright dangerous.

In his new book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman gives us more reasons to be wary. The news we are exposed to in the modern world, he writes, makes people angry, pessimistic, and distrustful.

This, contends Bregman, is because “news is about the exceptional, and the more exceptional an event is—be it a terrorist attack, violent uprising, or natural disaster—the bigger its newsworthiness.”

This tendency is amplified because people are prone to negativity bias, meaning they seek out, respond to, and believe bad news more easily than good news. Then, people apply an availability bias—a tendency to believe that if we can recall something easily, that thing is common. “The fact that we’re bombarded daily with horrific stories about aircraft disasters, child snatchers, and beheadings…completely skews our view of the world,” Bregman writes.

“In the old days, journalists didn’t know much about their individual readers. They wrote for the masses,” he notes. “But the people behind Facebook, Twitter, and Google know you well. They know what shocks and horrifies you; they know what makes you click.”

After this warning, Bregman explains why the news our brains marinate in every day is untrue. The outlook is not so dire, he writes. It is up to citizens to understand the context of the news.

Context is more than a lack of bias, it is an understanding of why an event is important and what it means to the reader. This is why curated information is more important than ever.

Professional associations such as ASIS International increasingly serve as trusted sources in difficult times. Security Management, through its print magazine and digital media, seeks not only to provide the most important news of the day to global security professionals, but to put that news in the relevant, most helpful context.

For example, in the November issue Herbert Calderon, CPP, PCI, PSP, writes about threats to Machu Picchu, which range from fires to vandalism. But he also describes the development of a free app visitors can use to report emergencies, speeding security responses.

Managing Editor Claire Meyer interviews security professionals in Asia as part of the Global Management series. These discussions reveal that the perception of security’s role in the region is changing, becoming less authoritative and more strategic.

Assistant Editor Sara Mosqueda explores the decrease in traditional retail losses due to shoplifting, organized retail crime, and internal theft, and the increase in supply chain threats.

Security professionals must know the bad news and understand the worst-case scenarios, but diving into the details and understanding the nuance is critical. ASIS is here to provide the context.

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