Are you skeptical? I hope so.
So I tell my students. Challenge
everything you hear or read—including this sentence. Don’t take anything
without checking it out.
An old copy editor’s maxim—“If
your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”
Maybe not that extreme, but with
all the talk of “fake news” these days and trust in the news media at a low, intelligent
citizens need to be more vigilant about their news sources.
With the current occupant of the
White House labeling everything he disagrees with as “fake,” and the verbal
vomit of “social” media, this is more critical
So here are my thoughts that
appeared in my column in this month’s
A reader’s guide to
getting factual news
(Don’t be a sucker
for fake news)
- Be skeptical. Check it out.
- Seek multiple sources. Any person who relies on just one
source of information these days is shallow, and lazy.
- Be skeptical of anything on “social” media, especially from
individuals who seem to have personal or political agendas.
- If “social” or other media quote another news source,
especially a newspaper, look it up to make sure it’s a real newspaper, not a
- If some “news” sounds outrageous or extreme, always find
more than one source to look it up (If it sounds too good to be true…). Ask
“Why” something sounds extreme.
- If the source always presents just one viewpoint with loaded
political or other claims, regardless of the viewpoint, be skeptical.
- Beware of loaded propaganda language in “news” items like
“right –wing,” “liberal,” “fake news.” Such terms are dead giveaways of slanted
or false facts.
- If you’ve never heard of the source of the “news” before, or
if you can’t identify the source, if it anonymous, why believe it?
- A source of information that presents more than one
viewpoint is more trustworthy.
- Verifying real news is easier than ever with Internet
searches, or by calling or emailing your newspaper editor.
- Unlike other media (broadcast and digital), most newspapers
clearly label opinions as editorials and columns, separated from the main news
- Just because you disagree with some news, or don’t like it,
doesn’t mean it is ‘fake.”
- Has the news source earned your trust with factual
information in the past?
- Who really owns the news media source—Do other interests
affect the news?
- Use the Internet to find the ownership—for instance:
- CBS is owned by Viacom, a media conglomerate, with interests
in cinema and cable TV.
- NBC is owned by GE and Comcast, world’s largest broadcast
and cable TV company by revenue.
- ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company.
- Fox News, Wall Street Journal, is owned by Rupert Murdock,
of News Corp, including 150 newspapers, magazines and stations around the
- CNN Is owned by Time Warner, third largest entertainment
company by revenue.
- New York Times is owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family since
1896 with 16 newspapers, 8 TV stations, and more.
You can easily look up the ownership of your
local newspapers, television and radio stations.