As college students, and, hopefully, participants in democracy, it is important to become and remain informed citizens. However, there have always been those seeking to misinform, mislead, deceive, and pervert the truth to suit their message.
Some may remember the infamous “Pizzagate” incident at a Washington D.C. pizzeria in Dec. 2016, which is a prime example. In this past presidential election cycle there were uses of the phrase “fake news.” It was thrown around so haphazardly which likely confused some people.
President Trump only contributes to the issue. By dubbing legitimate news media as “fake news” he is damaging the integrity of the fourth estate, the civil watchdog that keeps those with power in check.
So, what is fake news? Is it really CNN? No.
The president always cries “fake news” of any outlet that publishes or broadcasts anything unfavorable about him, or his administration. Not only does he damage the reputations of legitimate outlets and individuals, he just lies on social media, then defends it and doubles down at the podium.
He uses Twitter to create his own fake news, usually to shift the narrative of news coverage. Through social media, it has become much easier to disseminate misinformation and propaganda.
New information comes out daily about Russia’s use of social media to influence the 2016 elections. If you find an article on a social media platform, don’t just share it, remember to remain skeptical until the source proves reliable.
Always consider the source. Is it coming from a recognized regional, or national, news outlet?
There are so many reputable news outlets both in print and online, such as, Citrus College Clarion, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, etc.
Don’t rely on just the headlines for accurate information.
A bulk of the information is already top loaded in an article. So, if you only want the bare minimum from your news intake, you can essentially just read the first paragraph.
An articles by-line contains the author’s name and the date it was published. A journalist putting their name to an article adds credibility by creating accountability.
Also, make sure the news you’re reading is current. Out of date articles can cause confusion.
Well rounded news articles contain multiple sources, and often cite more than one when using statistics.
Make sure it isn’t a joke.
Irony, sarcasm, and ridicule are clear signs of satire. Some sources, like The Onion, are entirely satirical.
Avoid sensationalistic and hyperbolic language in articles, often exaggerated, these articles are “click bait”, a way for outlets to make money on advertising.
Remember to use online fact checkers.
If you read or hear something that doesn’t seem right to you, before you post it to social media, check it. There are many reliable fact check websites, like http://factcheck.org and http://politifact.com.
Don’t forget to check your bias.
Many fake news articles play to your beliefs. Avoid sources that only reinforce your firm opinions. This is called confirmation bias.
Opinions are not always the same as facts.
With so many outlets and platforms vying for your attention, it is important to possess a certain degree of skepticism.
Everyone is susceptible to confirmation bias, so remember to change up your news sources. Try not to rely on just one source for news. We all spend time on our phones each day, take ten minutes of that time to inform yourself. Keep a healthy skepticism. Be wary of fake news. Don’t share it.