Fake news, alternative facts… like it or not but life is starting to feel like a spy movie, in which it is hard to determine who and what information you can and cannot trust. The fact that media outlets and produced news are colored or in some cases is biased is hopefully not news to you. Stories, no matter who tells or writes them are always written from a certain perspective.
But now we must deal with downright fake news, untrue and unverified. Especially in an era where news, whether it be true or not is so easily shared.
Personally, I’m the kind of person that likes to stay updated on current events. I want to be aware of what is happening in the world around me. And to do that I rely on the media in all its current forms. However just watching, listening and reading whatever information comes my, or should I say our way is not really the way to go anymore. Being lazy when it comes to news? We are rapidly heading in a direction in which we as information consumers must try to verify in as far and in as much that is possible info for themselves.
So how can we determine the truthfulness of information as fast or as easy as possible? Here are some ways:
- Is it clear who or what the source is? A researcher or journalist knows that it is good practice to mention the sources on which their information is based. Every now and then check those sources.
- Search for multiple perspectives. Newspapers and News broadcasters usually cover a lot of the same big stories. Are the mentioned details similar? This is just an indication, as news travels and often gets copied and slightly altered.
- Old or new? Every now and then we see a news story shared, usually shared online, that is not news. It might not be fake news, but it is old news. If it seems familiar, check and search. The Internet can be a blessing!
- Does the source of the information seem reliable? Fake news is usually shared online. On websites or through Social Media. So, you can check the source of this news quite easily. Check the website name or link. Is the source a known media outlet.
- Ask and try to answer questions, this set of questions is formulated by Frank W. Baker (creator of the Media Literacy Clearinghouse), like:
- Who is the author of the shared information?
- Who is the (target) audience?
- What techniques are being used to get our attention and to make a message believable?
- Who benefits from a message?
- Who or what is omitted and why?
Jacobson L. The Smell Test. (cover story). School Library Journal [serial online]. January 2017;63(1):24-28. Available from: Education Research Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 11, 2017.