Staying Informed Today

Gone are the days of the trusted news reporter. We realied on  Walter Cronkite when it came to reporting the news. Today, it’s anyone’s best guess what is true, and what it not. With the maturity of the internet, everyone (including me) is published, and everyone (again, including me) has an opinion. So many of the “news” organizations are slanted to one side or the other, so it’s really hard to get true, fair, unbiased “news”.

OK, I realize there is no such thing as totally “unbiased” information since there will always be some slant when humans are involved but, how do I get the best, unfiltered information these days?

I have no desire to get caught up with the emotional fervor which is so common on the social sites, I just want to be informed with as little slant as possible. 

So many times I have researched and dug deeper when reading an interesting story only to find inconsistencies when going to other sources. 

This has become really hard.

There are too many “news” stories with inaccuracies, and I have come to the realization that it’s up to each of us to find what the facts are to each story. 

Cable News networks tend to sensationalize most stories, and use “experts” in a panel style setup to talk (ad nauseam at times) about the ongoing story. These talking heads can be slim on credibility, and are often listed as a “(news channel) contributor”, some have previous government employment in appointed positions.

One of the more credible business channels I watch lists graphically the background of the “expert” being interviewed. This helps add credibility to what’s being discussed.

I shy away from most third party platforms (Google news, Facebook, LinkedIn) unless I can pick and choose what I see. Let’s face it, Facebook is all about the amount of “likes” a page gets which doesn’t mean what’s on it is valid.

With Google News and LinkedIn you can semi-customize your feed, but questionable sites can still get through their algorithms on the general feed. One product I like is the Amazon Echo which has a decent customizable news feed.

I realized a couple of years ago that I needed to come up with some guidelines to keep me away from getting sucked into the emotional one-sided rants that seem so prevalent today. I did a lot of experimenting, and finally came up with these:

  1. Consider the site or channel (is it normally slanted to one side), the sources referenced (named or not), and how the story is presented. So many times the TV news channels use “experts”, I always ask myself, how did they become an expert? If their credentials aren’t mentioned or shown, and they are not a household name, I usually take my attention elsewhere.
  2. When I find a story that is interesting I go to multiple sources to perform deeper research into the subject. I usually give up if I can’t find other sources. If the story is close to home, I contact people I know and trust to find out more.
  3. Filter Twitter by using lists: Twitter, unfiltered, Can be a real caustic mess, but if you filter it by creating lists, it can provide some good credible information. It took me a long to time set this up, but I found it to be a quick way to get credible information. After the last Presidential election I found myself managing it a lot more (adding and deleting accounts).
  4. When reading stories always be aware of red flags like “reports are saying”, “anonymous sources”, “seeking confirmation”, and other non confirmed verbiage. I find credibility ends with these statements most of the time.
  5. Any headline that reads: “Here’s What you need to Know”, or is telling you what should be important I find offensive. I can find my own information out, and come to my own conclusion as to what is important to me. I recently came across a Headline from The Atlantic which infuriated me: “Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War”. My father was a civil war buff, and the family library has many books on the Civil War, many of which I have read. To think the author of this article is telling me I am stupid is very offensive.

Since the internet came into existence there is so many places to find information, it just takes longer to find a decent unbiased account of it.

I hope these guidelines help, and am always open to suggestions or discussion.

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