How to Spot Fake News (or at least think for yourself)
If you’ve never attended a community conversation, give it a chance sometime. If there is nothing else you take away from this article, let it be understood the importance of socializing and discussing your fears with your community. Even beyond your community, just face to face conversations. It is here you can take time to shake someone’s hand after hearing what they’ve said instead of avoiding response to a stranger on the internet. When I walked into the community conversation held at the Oregon Historical Society, there was one empty seat in the circle, in a room filled with concerned (mostly elderly) citizens. We all came with one concern in mind:
“I’m tired of hearing what I thought was true is fake and what I thought for certain was fake, is true”
‘Fake News’ is a major buzzword and is creating fears and mistrust in our society. We’ve all heard of it and can probably point to its most recent spike in popularity, but can we define it? Personally, I admit to being naive in a lot of world events out of fear that what I’m hearing has a secondary agenda. Having studied marketing and propaganda in college, I know more than the average bloke about sponsorship campaigns. Within this discussion, the definition of ‘fake news’ is: a real news story that is twisted or changed in a major part so the viewer has an emotional response.
There are emotional responses flying around all over the place. As my conversation partner, Randy and I discussed, confusion is the biggest one. From confusion comes anger, distrust, rash decision making, anxiety, and depression. We’ve ALL been feeling this at some point, unless we’ve had our head in the sand or have already developed the ability to remain objective, informed, or unaffected personally by the holes in what we’re seeing/hearing in the world. One woman I talked to had just RECENTLY learned that the only station she trusted, Fox News, was lined with Republican ideals and she felt taken advantage of.
So what can you do to feel a little more confident in the world around you? Start with these practices when it comes to news:
1. Find a news source you can trust
Research their resources, their sponsors, and if they remain mostly objective in their stories or if they are politically sided. Some suggested sources are below.
Don’t rely on just one news source! We have the blessing (and curse) of living in the digital age. There are a plethora of news sources that present the same stories. If you see a story describe an event in basically the same way across 3-4 sources, you then can feel more confident in what you’re hearing/reading to be true
3. Remember that truth can be subjective
Many internet based news leans towards opinion based which leads to confusion for older generations who believe that since it’s written it’s true. Be skeptical, be open, be able to find how you feel about an issue instead of siding with one group of people.
4. Weigh the amount of time to importance
For example; If there is a story about celebrity gossip next to a story on tax hikes, which would merit more of your energy to determine if it’s fake or not?
5. Talk to your family, friends, and everyone else
Sometimes our fears are left to run wild in our head and they’ll keep running until we allow ourselves to express them. Talking to people you trust, will help you see sides of issues you would otherwise, never see. It will help you form a greater opinion on what is happening, and hopefully from there, take action.
“In knowledge and history lay our greatest weapons, our greatest true power” -Mark O Hatfield