In my fall garden, especially as flowering is on the wane, I am on the lookout for decay, the need to cut and clear spotted or curled leaves, the need to savor the remnants of growth. This morning, tall-headed—zinnias, orange, white, yellow—leaned into the warming sun. New, fresh buds are about to open. I am grateful for the possibility of fresh color, the possibility of mulberry pink flowers in September.
Would that the approach to news— how to spot decay (fake news), what to cut out and clear (disinformation)— were as obvious. In my last blog column, I offered concrete sites such as FactCheck.org as a resource which provides long-form accounts based upon factual sequences which can mediate presumptive bias. Since my week at Chautauqua on Media and the News, I am on the lookout for blight, spottiness, imbalance, bias in presentation, the shaping of news.
All news is written from a point of view. Over and over, Trump has labeled all mainstream media as fake news. In effect, his words eradicate most of the news media I reply upon for information. Countering his bluster takes effort. Clarity of sources and point of view about what is being written and promulgated in the daily news is essential to maintaining one’s perspective.
Judy Wolfe, in her presentation at Road Scholar’s week at Chautauqua, emphasized that by simply searching for media bias, one can come upon sites and graphs prepared and posted by a variety of people and organizations. In preparation for this blog, I gave it a try. Yes, the effort to discern and impart information about how to manage media bias is impressive. If you want to dig in, learn more about the possibility of what sites are LEAST or MOST biased, I recommend https://mediabiasfactcheck.com as a starter.
This media bias site offers both a chart and lists of news items according to bias categories from Left to Right starting with Left-Bias, Left-Center Bias, Least Biased, Right-Center Bias, Right Bias, Pro-Science, Conspiracy-Pseudoscience, Questionable Sources, Satire.
As a good example, their lead post on September 8, 2017, is titled How The Truth Can Get Damaged in a Hurricane, Too. Take a look at the following examples.
- “On Twitter, Facebook and a handful of other venues, hundreds of thousands of people in recent days have clicked or shared items with headlines warning that Hurricane Irma waspoised to become a Category 6 storm (on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity) that “ could wipe entire cities off the map.”
- “The fact-checking website Snopesmade quick work of debunking that claim. Still, the National Weather Service felt moved to post warnings about fake forecasts.”
- “Meanwhile, Conservative News Today posted a Facebook Live video ofa bus being toppled by Irma and a ship in enormous seas said to be carrying “hurricane chasers” heading into Irma. Neither was true. With help from social media, ProPublica tracked the original video of the endangered ship back to January 2013; it was shot in a terrible storm 60 miles or so off the coast of Portugal.”
I’m grateful for readily available resources which, with a touch of the finger, can share multiple social media sites and verifiable facts of current events and issues. Hopefully, I have expanded your “get the truth” tool kit in managing true and authentic news and have inspired you to check out a site or two to use as a ballast in this time of Twitter, Facebook and variable news options.