Troubling times for news reporting…
These are the best of times and the worst of times for news reporting. There is so much in the news but so much of it is questionable as being TRUE. Truth, facts, actual events, accuracy and validity are being questioned more and more. The traditional news sources, the TV networks, the Internet, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, and many, many more are not believed as readily as before. Each of these many sources are working to solve the problem of fact checking. Justifiably, people are becoming increasingly skeptical of everything they read, see and hear on the news.
The problem is deeper than it seems. One person’s hoax is another person’s reality. For some people, they believe it to be and that makes it so. They live in their own world of reality and truth. They wear their own ‘facts’ glasses confirming the truth of a story as they see it. Repeated often enough any claim takes on a patina of validity in the eyes of the beholders who wish it. Deny the authenticity to the person who sees it as truth, and you become part of the conspiracy to defraud them. Eventually you are viewed as the purveyor of falsehood because you are trying to discredit the sources the beholder believes in. A vicious circle which the news media recognizes and is trying to resolve.
Fact checking criteria
In light of the above, it is incumbent on the news reader to determine the validity of any news story themselves. The criteria below may be a practical tool for gauging the truth behind any story:
- Has the story been reported anywhere else?
- Is it multi-reported? On radio, TV or in the newspapers?
- Have you heard of the organisation that published the story?
- Does the website where you found the story look genuine? (meaning it doesn’t look like a copycat website that’s designed to look like another genuine website)
- Does the website address at the very top of the page look real? Is the end of the website something normal like ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’, and not something unusual, like ‘com.co’?
- Does the photo or video look normal? Credible?
- Does the story sound believable?
Additionally, compare story reported using a number of reputable sources for comfirmation if you have doubts. But again the situation gets more and more muddled by one’s position on the political spectrum. Liberals, moderates, conservatives, extremists on the left and the right, each take a different position as to what they believe and what they believe in. Each will discredit or trust the sources as per their own biases. One persons liar is the other’s credible source.
To designate any single source as constantly telling the truth is an insurmountable challenge. The best one can do is use multiple sources, each having a reputation for ‘good’ reporting over a long period of time. Even then, the above criteria should be applied and the news story cross referenced.
The following list of news sources (not in any particular order) have international reputations for reporting news accurately. But again, be reminded that news is written by human beings, biased and slanted or pre-disposed to personal likes and dislikes.
For Canadian news, compare stories between the following and please note the Toronto Star is the only Canadian sources using a secure servers:
To pay or not to pay
Though it goes without saying, print media is in dire straits everywhere. It is crucial that it be preserved, chiefly because the reputable newspaper corporations employ dedicated professionals. These journalists devote themselves to reporting news which is as accurate, factual, and objective as possible. Often they are the investigative reporters who have pursued stories for long periods of time, digging deep as they try to get to the bottom of each. They are the praetorian guards of our freedoms and our democracy. They deserve and need our support. Buy a subscription even if it is a limited one, weekends only. When these reporters are gone, we will lose valuable defenders of our freedoms.
What are your trusted sources of news?