I know we can agree that intimidation, harassment, vandalism, and violence are wrong. We don’t do those things in our everyday lives, and I doubt you’re going to start now. I know many of us agree that the violence at the U. S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 was wrong. Let’s look more closely at why we disagree about the details or circumstances of that day.
We often get our news and information from our usual sources, without checking out what other sources are saying. I think that has created different realities for you and me. I ask you to consider your news sources. Please read on to see why I make this request.
When you’re cruising through your social media feed or looking at news sites, do you pay attention to the article source? If not, you should take the extra few seconds to do so. Checking the source will prevent you from sharing unreliable news and spreading false rumors, saving yourself and your family and friends from heartache.
One great way to look for accurate news sources is the Media Bias Chart at https://www.adfontesmedia.com. The ad fontes media group does extensive research to find out how media and news groups are biased or inaccurate (on both the left and right side of the scale). I encourage you to see where your favorite sources land on the graph. They have found that AP and Reuters are the most neutral and unbiased, so I like to check my sources against their news reports. There’s also NewsGuard, a group of journalists using transparent criteria to look at news websites. Libraries are starting to use it on their public computers so patrons can check if sites are unbiased and accurate. You can install a plugin on your browser and see if a site is rated as green or red. NewsGuard also provides “Nutrition Label” write-ups on news and information sites. Learn more here: https://www.newsguardtech.com.
Maybe there’s a specific fact or claim you’re wondering about? Another good tactic is to fact-check claims you see on the news. Snopes (snopes.com), and NOT REAL NEWS (apnews.com/tag/APFactCheck) are excellent tools to check quotes or details in the news.
I challenge all of us to use these tools for one week to broaden our news knowledge and make sure we’re getting the real scoop. I hope that we can all agree on what’s really going on out there once we have our facts straight.
If you’re into this kind of thing, you might want to check out my 2018 blog posts about critical thinking under the hashtag #Let’sThinkAbout. I hope we all work on that skill in 2021.