NEWS – REAL OR FAKE?
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance – George Bernard Shaw
I heard a great line the other day. Jimmy Kimmel was talking about hearing someone say the people have a right to make up their own minds when hearing the facts of a news report. His question; “How is that possible? Facts are facts. No one can make up their own facts!” Exactly! No matter what one thinks, it doesn’t change the facts.
Freedom of the press is extremely important. Without it, our country could easily be taken over by a dictator or tyrant. We would have no way of knowing what was actually being done in our Capital, or even in the lower governments of state or city. We wouldn’t know the true statistics regarding such things as health, education, homelessness, gun deaths, or police actions. Property values could be devalued with no explanation, or increased on a whim. Taxes could be raised with no accounting for their expenditure. The state of the economy could be manipulated to give false feelings of security (or fear) to the public. [In many countries, the people have no idea what life is like outside their immediate community because they have no access to world news. They rely on the word of their heads of state, and any news comes from that source only.]
Although the throngs of reporters can be disruptive and irritating, and sometimes they go too far in aiming for the “big scoop,” – ignoring the privacy needs of grieving families, for instance – to banish them would be constitutionally illegal, and detrimental to the well-being of our society. The police, the president, and sometimes other public figures routinely give news conferences to keep the public informed. The freedom of the press protects our safety and allows us to remain free.
However, all news sources are not the same. By reporting only part of a story, the entire meaning can change. There’s a big difference between falsifying a story and giving a report as initial news is breaking, then going back later when updated facts come to light. Mistakes will be made from time to time when reporting a fast-evolving situation. A reputable media outlet will waste no time before making corrections as updates are received.
Somewhere between falsifying and true reporting, there is also “spinning” or twisting the wording to sound different than the reality of whatever was said, or happened, or is known. This can be considered a “slant.”
Some Newspapers, websites, or channels give a mix of real news and sensationalized gossip or rumor. These are the most dangerous ones, because when we read several real articles, we assume all articles from that source are real, when that isn’t necessarily the case. An example of that would be The Rightists, http://therightists.com/ an online news site that admits to writing half fact, half fiction.
We must also be cautious with “News and Opinion” media. In a standard newspaper, opinions are reserved for the Editorial Pages. This isn’t so clear-cut with news factions on television or the Internet. Many of the political television sites have anchors who work on special pieces, bringing “experts” and other guests to discuss a popular subject. These people are not reporting news, nor are they – for the most part – verifying any news. They are usually giving their opinions, based on their own experiences, or explaining how a certain outcome might be obtained. What they say is not necessarily false, but it’s best to remember that it is only an opinion!
Today, the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters are the two best known sources for network news and accredited newspapers. The AP and Reuters provide news from around the world, and are very good at verifying their sources. News from them also ends up on YouTube, news blogs, and social media such as AOL News, Yahoo News, etc., where bits and pieces are then used on Facebook or Twitter or some other form of internet communication. Local media will also carry much of this information on their own websites. Most Television/Cable companies also have their own investigative reporters stationed around the globe, especially in key cities like London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing and Baghdad. To know if the news you are reading is coming from the AP or Reuters, look just above the body of the news piece, generally on the left-hand side. There is often a name there, indicating who wrote the article, and will include the source if coming from AP or Reuters.
There are also several media outlets that produce “Tabloid News.” Tabloid News is mostly exaggerated, misleading or false headlines, often followed by rumors of the rich and famous. Occasionally, these outlets wander into the world of politics or current events, touting sensationalized happenings, complete with quotes from “unnamed sources.” These are, at best, a form of entertainment reading.
Why do we, as a people, tend to accept questionable information as true, simply because we hear it repeated over and over by the media – even when the media explains that the information has not been substantiated or cannot be proven at the time? That may be the question of the century. It is left up to us to determine if what we are hearing or reading is factual. The hardest part is probably to admit that our way is not the only way, and to pay attention to what other minds think. But the only way to tell fact from fiction is to look it up. To that end, there are several websites that can help:
www.Snopes.com will accommodate a series of key words and try to find your question and verify its truth.
www.Politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/ fact-checks claims and statements made by politicians and other public figures.
www.factcheck.org is another site that strives to verify ads or comments about political parties and people.
https://www.truthorfiction.com attempts to confirm e-rumors.
www.hoaxslayer.com follows and debunks email scams and hoaxes.
One other method that might be helpful: Have you come across an article that seems too good to be true, or maybe too bad to be true? Try typing the title of the article you’re questioning into a browser. If the only thing that comes up is the web location you found it on, it is probably not accurate. If it was, other news organizations would have reported on it.
And finally, I’ve researched several news sites, categorized them, and listed them in alphabetical order. This is, by no means, the full extent of news outlets available.
10 Inaccurate or Tabloid News Sites (Fake News)
Christwire Global Media: www.christwire.org/
Empire News: http://empirenews.net
Empire Sports: http://www.empiresports.co/
The Daily Currant: http://dailycurrant.com/
The National Inquirer: http://www.nationalinquirer.com
The News Nerd: http://www.thenewsnerd.com/
The NoChill: http://www.thenochill.com/
Wyoming Institute of Technology: http://witscience.org/
Satirical news sites (Obviously written in jest)
Ironic Times: http://ironictimes.com
The Onion: http://www.theonion.com
Current and (mostly) unbiased, trustworthy news sites
New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/
Time (magazine): http://time.com/
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/
U.S. News & World Reports: www.usnews.com/
Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
10 LIBERAL leaning news sites and papers (usually honest news, but with a slant)
Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/
Mother Jones: http://www.motherjones.com/
The Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/
The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
The Nation: https://www.thenation.com/
The New Republic: https://newrepublic.com/
The Village Voice: http://www.villagevoice.com/
10 CONSERVATIVE leaning news sites and papers (usually honest news but with a slant)
FOX News: http://www.foxnews.com/
News With Views: http://www.newswithviews.com/
Real Clear Politics: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/
Right Wing News: http://rightwingnews.com/
The Drudge Report: http://www.drudgereport.com/
The New York Post: http://nypost.com/
The Weekly Standard: http://www.weeklystandard.com/
Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/
Update: This is another site you can check for fake news sites. http://fakenewswatch.com
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