Media Literacy: Where the Truth Lies

Where the Truth Lies

“The media isn’t just against me, they’re against you.” Donald Trump as reported by NBC News Politics, October 24, 2016

“There are seven reasons that the mainstream media and many of the largest “alternative” media websites are all pro-war.” Washingtonsblog on  informationclearinghouse.info, December 3, 2016

 

New Zealand passport robot tells applicant of Asian descent to open eyes Reuters Technology news, Dec 7, 2016

 

The list of articles and arguments trying to convince a media consumer that the news they are reading has been deliberately altered to benefit someone else’s (government, corporate or political) interests, to deceive or harm the consumer, is long.

The evidence that the media is not out to get you is short.

It’s hard to prove a negative.

Want fair and balanced information on issues that matter to you?

  • Decide: do you even want news? If you’re just looking for puppies and kittens, nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of feel good options out there.
  • Think about which issues matter to you. There is tremendous benefit to knowing where your local tax dollars go. There are government sites you can visit to give you exact figures and local news sources to help interpret the results. And; there is very little you can do for the child in East Aleppo, Syria, surrounded by enemy forces, without food, water or medical supplies. The plethora of dire situations around the world may not seem to have a direct relevance to your life but how the wars are waged and who wages them will ultimately domino into your personal bottom line.
  • Reconsider your belief in the possibility of fair and balanced reporting. Bias is inevitable, in how a story is presented or what news gets reported. Major media outlets are responsible to their sponsors. Governments are responsible to their parliaments or presidents. Even freelance and independent journalists need to be able to sell their reports to survive.
  • Consider that you may not be a fair and balanced consumer. Examine your biases honestly. Where did you come from? Where do you see yourself now? How does this influence where you go for news and what you believe?
  • How do you get as close to the truth as possible within the time you have to work with? A couple times a year choose a few news sources, some that agree with your fundamental beliefs about the world, and some that don’t. Compare their reports on the same subject. Fact check the information as closely as you can; for example, Ebola information from CNN and WHO reports. Then decide you will trust two of these sources in general, from divergent viewpoints, and regularly pay attention to their coverage of a variety of issues.

And; Debate! Hopefully with people who don’t agree with you!

With the holiday family season in mind consider the difference between a spirited debate and a personal attack; the other person is defending a position rather than defending themselves.

About Frances Wiedenhoeft

After a lifetime in nursing, anesthesia and the Army I now write, blog, attend school for journalism and massage, and watch my 3 grandchildren. I am a veteran of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and try to serve other vets such as myself, and to work for peace.
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