Can you choose the real news account from the three choices below?
1)“BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” The Christian Times“
2) These Reports allege Trump has deep ties with Russia.” Buzzfeed.com “
3) Ten times Trump spread fake news” The New York Times
These three headlines represent a spectrum of news stories ranging from “admittedly false” and published by a guy on a website he purchased from ExpiredDomains.net for $5 (The Christian Times), to an “unverified report” by a fast growing but irreverent website (Buzzfeed.com) known for such newsworthy articles as…”50 puppies to help you get through work today,” to “fact searched” by a seemingly trusted news institution founded in 1851 (The New York Times).
The fake news epidemic is sure to shake the faith of readers in our journalistic institutions and believability of the free press. It’s enough to make the average reader cynical and distrusting of any news source. So how does an “informed” reader differentiate between the credible and the incredible? The fact-checked and the fabricated? The authentic versus click bait?
Simple. Develop media literacy. How? In Media and Culture: Mass Communications for the Digital Age we are given a critical process to help us decide what is real, and what is not. First you must realize that culture is complex. Then you must put your personal biases, preferences and prejudices aside. Next, follow the steps below:
- Description: Take notes on the content, the descriptions, the interviews, the conflicts, the topics, the themes. Anything sound fishy here? Red flag!
- Analysis: Look for any key patterns that may exists, the number of quotes, sources given or verified reasons to believe the article may be true…or not.
- Interpretation: The most important stage where you must ask the question, “So what?” And “What does this mean?”
- Evaluation: You be the judge, and decide if this sounds like a credible hypothesis, or argument. But put your personal tastes, biases and prejudices aside…if you can.
- Engagement: Take action on what you’ve seen or heard and make your voice known. Take part in discussions on websites, write a letter to the editor, challenge the status quo, don’t be passive or silent.
Being mediate literate means having a critical perspective to judge whether a news article should be trusted or trashed.
Oh, by the way, if you answered 3) to the first question of this blog, you might just be correct!