There is little doubt on most people’s minds that the overwhelming stream of click bait headlines—filled with nothing but falsehoods that reinforce our biases—have reshaped how many think about major issues such as this horrendous election cycle.
One of the first things we can recommend is that just because it’s on the Internet it doesn’t make it true.
We have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to everyone we are connected to via social media to verify what we’re sharing is indeed true.
Considering that information is at our fingertips, this shouldn’t be difficult.
Melissa Zimdars, an assistantew professor of communications and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts writes:
Tips for analyzing news sources:
- Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (above). These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
- Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources.
- Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
- Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
- Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
- Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex:BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
- Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
- Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
- If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
- It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
These are many of the guidelines Welcome2TheBronx follows and employs for we have to maintain the utmost integrity our readers have come to expect.
To view Zimdars’ ever growing and evolving document with a list of websites and how trustworthy they are not, click to read the Google Doc here.
We sincerely hope that you are able to utilize this post to better guide your decision making on what information out there is accurate or not and to use better judgment in sharing such sources.