"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Don't be a sucker for "fake" news--guidelines

    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 than ever.
So here are my thoughts that appeared in my column in this month’s Oklahoma Publisher.
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 fake one.
  • 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 pages.
  • 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:
  1. CBS is owned by Viacom, a media conglomerate, with interests in cinema and cable TV.
  2. NBC is owned by GE and Comcast, world’s largest broadcast and cable TV company by revenue.
  3. ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company.
  4. Fox News, Wall Street Journal, is owned by Rupert Murdock, of News Corp, including 150 newspapers, magazines and stations around the world.
  5. CNN Is owned by Time Warner, third largest entertainment company by revenue.
  6. 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.

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