Kingdom of Fear: Getting it Right (Part 2)
While it is actually pretty easy to spot to phony news stories, it can be much more difficult to be discerning about news from reputable news organizations.
The Mainstream Media Is Not All Bad (Including Fox News)
While journalistic media battles amongst themselves to compete with the internet and an audience increasingly interested in celebrity gossip drivel over substantive stories, it is still safe to assume that if they report that someone said something outrageous he or she likely said it. Because these conglomerates are in constant competition, any chance they can prove a competitor wrong about the facts, they’ll take it.
Read At Least Three Different Sources
Find at least three different news outlets and read (or watch) each one’s take on a particular story. Note where the stories are coming from: Are they all reporting from the same source (which could be wrong) or has it been independently confirmed? At least one of those sources should be a newspaper that does its own independent reporting.
Reportage v. Analysis
Here at Issue Hawk, we tend to rely on others for the actual reporting of a news story and provide you with unique analysis. On Fox News for example, if Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace, or Bret Baier are telling you something it’s likely true. Reportage consists only of the details of a story. Analysis is often what happens when they try to make predictions or talk to anyone on a cable news “panel.” Facts or stats that don’t come from the anchor should be immediately suspect, unless he or she states its source.
Newsmen Are People, Too
Whether a reporter is a warrior for speaking truth to power or a media hack who just wants a love affair with his or her audience, they can all make mistakes. While Fox News – the opinion team – did little to disabuse the “death panel” myth during the healthcare debate, the real journalists on Fox News did report that it simply wasn’t true. Similarly, when an anchor gets the facts wrong, he or she takes great pains to correct his or her mistake.
Finally, one should maintain a healthy skepticism about the news. There are issues with legitimate and balanced debates, such as what to do about curbing political money and how that would affect free speech. Climate change, on the other hand, is less balanced. It is happening and humanity certainly plays a role in it, and the only debate remains in the details.