What News Sources Do You Trust? Why Do You Trust Them?

A few weeks ago we looked at how to find Fake News. If you read my post you saw that it took time and research in order to uncover that there was no truth to the claim that was made about Sanctuary Cities in the title of the article. Hopefully though, you were able to pick up some tools on how to quickly check a source for their reliability.

So now that we know how to spot fake news, the follow up question is how do we spot truth in news? We have a president who, in his own words, has proclaimed the media “the opposition party.” As such, they are deemed, “Fake News.” Among the outlets that he views as adversarial are MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, Buzzfeed, Washington Post, BBC, The New York Times, and TIME Magazine among others. He has gone to the extent now of banning some of them from news briefings in a “gaggle” (I’ll address this issue in a later post). I’m not here to argue whether they are biased or not, as was discussed in an earlier post, bias is not inherently bad. Every single person has bias. Heck, Jesus was biased against Pharisees and Sadducees. The more important question is whether or not it’s true? What steps do you take so that you know that the news sources you listen to are reliable? How do you tell the difference between opinions on facts and actual evidence?

Here are a few steps that I take personally, and I would love to hear your own ideas. My hope in this is not to say one news source is better than another, or why you can or cannot trust CNN or Fox News, but rather what steps do you take to verify your news?

1. Corroboration: One of the quickest ways to check on the reliability of a story is to see what other news outlets are reporting on it and how they are reporting on it. Do they all give the same evidence, or does your news source take a spin on a story that no one else is talking about?

2. Opinion or Reporting: Does the article or news program give you the evidence and then let you come to your own conclusion? Or do they tell you how to interpret the evidence for you? As you listen or read try to distinguish between the two. Again, opinions in and of themselves are not necessarily wrong, just ask yourself can you tell the difference?

3. Variety: In Ireland it is expected that you subscribe to at least three different newspapers. One of the things that I stress to my students is that they have to get their news from more than one source. If your only source of information is one cable news station or one newspaper, then that is the only viewpoint that you will agree with.

4. Take the other side: As you read ask yourself what the other side would say about that article. What would they say was fact or opinion? Even though there are two sides to every coin, you can still buy a gumball with it.

What about you? I’m going to be teaching a unit on identifying “Fake News” later in the semester, and I would love to hear other strategies that you use so that I can present it to them. Again, this is not meant to be a post in which to create opportunities to bash the other side, but rather to create a civil discourse in order to promote a more informed society.

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