By Greg Tucker
As a journalism student, I am well aware of the internet and the amount of information that can be gathered using the very accessible tool; I am also aware of the amount of misinformation that can be gathered using the internet.
What is misinformation? Also known as fake news, misinformation is made-up of inaccurate facts that are usually intended to gear readers/viewers away from what is actually going on. You can detect it by viewing multiple sources of information or simply doing research on the source you choose to get your information from. Ask yourself: Are they credible? Have they misinformed people in the past? Who even is this person? These questions are a few that we as journalists have to ask ourselves in order to give the public the closest thing to the truth.
If you are on the internet, more than likely you have come across “bad” news on the internet. Maybe you heard news that your favorite artists has died, a terrorist attacked people in a public place or that a country has started to invade another. This news often goes viral because it causes a sense of panic/danger for the public, however, we must fact check what we see in order to verify if it is true and as severe as the media made it out to be. This allows for us to alleviate our panic by either confirming or denying if it is necessary. We can also be conscious about what we choose to share. Instead of choosing to share the story about a local grocery store robbery, opt to share the story about a city kid who runs a successful small business out of his home.
Caleb, have you ever read an article or watched the news and afterwards found yourself being completely swayed to believe that it was true? Did you later find that there was more to the story? We are often manipulated by the media and how they choose to frame a story. This is what we call media bias which has many forms. The media can leave out certain information that can go against the narrative they want you to believe. Example: a major celeb gossip show says that an actress is on “drugs” without mentioning that they are prescribed medications in order to imply or outright state that the actress has a drug problem. This is a very dangerous tactic that many media outlets use. In order to see whether or not the media has some sort of bias, you can always check in with people who actually know the history of the person such as friends, fans, family as they may have more of the actual information. You can then piece together your story using details from people on opposing sides of the spectrum and see if any of the details match/add up.
Are you aware of satirical news? This form of news tends to be for purposes of humor, sarcasm or criticism. We should be careful as it should not be taken seriously; sometimes satirical news can be misinterpreted as what is actually happening. Just like fake news, it may have misinformation as situations can be exaggerated for comedic purposes.
Caleb, the best advice that I can give you is to always ask questions. Always read an article as if you´re Sherlock Holmes and see what sticks out about it. If something odd stands out, take it back to the lab and analyze it. Always use a variety of resources to verify or refute claims that you question. Do your research!