Last time we talked about what fake news is. This time we will be talking about where to find good news. Riveting stuff, I know, but trust me! Finding good news sources is not as hard as you might think, plus you will become a smarter news reader.
The news is a living, breathing thing.
Journalists make the news experience easy for a lot of people. They talk to the right folks, get the scoop on information from reliable sources, break down tough information, and explain as best as we can to everyone.
That’s only part of the job though. This is where you come in.
You take in the information journalists tell you. If done correctly, you should come to your own opinion after reading or viewing what the news tell you.
This is step #1 Spotting bias.
I talked about this last week on fake news and unintentional bias. Behind every article, some person stressed for time typed up a 500-word report in 30 minutes before their 3 p.m. deadline. In this age, journalists do it all: looking up the information, writing the information and checking the information. ALL ON DEADLINE. So things will fall through the cracks and come out flat out wrong sometimes. Just look at twitter and the many times you see news sources come back apologizing over a mistake.
- When you read an article ask yourself: Are they telling me what to think and how to feel?
- If the answer is yes, then the article isn’t objective and that should set off some red flags.
Step #2 Sources, sources, sources!
Don’t just read the headline and share.
Yes, the headline (the title of the article usually in bold) does summarize points of the article, but they tend to be misleading! They’re written this way to get your clicks (just like I talked about last time).
If you did read the article (and I hope you did!) Ask yourself:
- Did the article talk to more than one person to gather information?
This goes back to bias. Take the situation with Standing Rock. If you read an article where the only information provided was from Oil Company CEOS and workers, wouldn’t that be biased?
Good news takes a look at all sides of the situation and shows data that comes from thorough testing with large population pools.
Check the history of your news source. Is it nonpartisan (doesn’t swing left or right?) Who owns them? What’s their political affiliation? Yes, the news is owned by somebody and it can play a slight role on how the news is presented.
Step #3 Do your homework.
“But Arrrrrrriiiiii” you say to me, “I just want to read the news, not do research on iiiiiittt.”
In which I say in return, “In order to stay informed, you must do a little work!”
Don’t just read your news from Facebook (albeit really tempting). A lot of fake news gets spread around social media. If you see an article that is straight up weird and unbelievable, then do some research on it. Trust your gut! If your BS meter is going off the charts, then do some homework before writing it off completely.
Go to google and type in the subject talked about in the sketchy article:
- Is more than one news source talking about it?
- What do they have to say?
- Is the information biased?
- What do their sources look like?
If you’re coming across a hard time answering these questions, then you’re most likely reading a fabricated article.
Step 4: Read, read, read!
A good way to spot fake news is to read good news.
“But Ari, what is good news these days?” you ask me.
In which I reply,
Start locally. Check out your local news channel. Auburn does not have its own news station, but we do get our news from WSFA12 and WTVM9. Local broadcast stations work exclusively on local news. National news that you see covered is streamed in from a national database from their affiliate channel (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX).
Also, read the local newspaper. They too focus on the local news. When you read local, get to know the journalists (they’re super friendly) don’t be afraid to ask questions about the things you read and understand how they use sources.
I recommend the Associated Press (AP). They are the national hub were many news stations, magazines, radios, and newspapers pull their world and national news from. AP has their own team of journalists is trusted for their incredible sources and years dependability.
Also try Reuters, New York Times and USA Today (don’t forget to check for bias!)
A good way to look at American news is from the outside in. A good source to look at American news from a global lens is the BBC.
I hope you this guide has been helpful to you. Remember, the news is not fake news just because you don’t agree with it. Do your research and come to your own conclusion.
Good luck, tiger!
For additional reading, check out Facebook’s take on battling Fake News.