Increase media literacy to combat fake news
Imagine you are waiting on a street corner and watch as an out-of-control car zooms past you and smashes into a light pole, causing another vehicle to run into it. Worried, you rush over to the wreckage, joined by two other people who saw the crash. Soon after, a policeman shows up and inquires what each person saw.
All three witnesses, including you, report a different version of the story. Yet each individual reported correctly according to what they had seen.
Every story has multiple angles. As journalists, it is our job to seek and report those stories with detailed accuracy, quickness and without bias.
Unfortunately in today’s day and age, trust in media seems to rest at an all time low. The rise of “fake news” in just the last two years has created a chasm between the public and those who report news.
The truly sad part is fake news exists in grave excess. Some major news outlets publish fake and or biased news to fill an agenda or sell papers. A popular tool to use in the fake news realm is to wrap truth all around one big lie, so it appears believable but the heart of it is actually incorrect.
As a result of this, citizens absolutely must be engaged with the news they watch and read, especially online or on social media. While journalists serve as a watchdog, the public must serve as a watchdog for the journalists and news sites. But so many people blame the media for spreading false stories.
We as citizens hold the civic duty to stay engaged with our media to help our democracy function best. We must have the ability to pull out the bias of what we listen and read, as well as listen to all sides of the story, whether Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative. — Alexander Rurik
There are organizations who seek to spread their fake news to advance their agenda, but at the same time, we, the people, also bear some responsibility for sharing these fake stories with our followers, completely unaware of their inaccuracies.
To become increasingly media literate, one needs to consider the sources, byline, audience and what other outlets are reporting. Additionally, before you like, share or retweet an article, actually take the time to read it instead of sending it out to your followers based on the outrageous clickbait title.
Reports without other sources simply must be viewed with skepticism while the byline is the line of text, telling the audience the author’s name. Not only do they boast the author’s name, but if there is no byline, the author most likely does not want their name attached to their work.
Think about the audience an outlet is sending their news to, knowing they attempt to appeal to certain demographics to keep ratings high. Adult? Child? Democrat? Republican? How are they spinning it in their favor?
It is crucial when reading a major, breaking or controversial story that other news sites are reporting the same thing. Corroboration between multiple sources is key when searching for truth and accuracy.
Lastly, follow through with a story. Journalists report news as it becomes available so over time, a story may change.
We as citizens hold the civic duty to stay engaged with our media to help our democracy function best. We must have the ability to pull out the bias of what we listen and read, as well as listen to all sides of the story, whether Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative. Instead of jumping on a mass media bandwagon, become an informed and educated news consumer.
For more articles related to SJW, check out Join the discussion: Feather staff shares views on controversial topics and COLUMN: Scholastic Journalism Week inspires students to find voice. For another column, read COLUMN: Golden Knights’ mindset impresses Alexander Rurik.@thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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