Regardless of political affiliation, the phenomenon of fake news in today’s landscape is downright terrifying, considering most of us use some type of social media to get our news. I remember sitting in my AP Lang class in high school and my professor warning us to never passively accept information as correct. Flash forward six years, and never has a lecture been more applicable. Fake news has caused a divide in our society and now more than ever it is important for us to make informed decisions.
Here are 5 ways to stay informed and combat fake news:
- Look at the Source: This is the number one way to ensure the information you are reading is accurate. When I say source, I don’t mean whether you got the article from Facebook or Twitter, but rather the publication or the author. Do a quick Google search and see if the source is credible, whether it uses satire, or even if it tends to slant a certain way politically.
- Tone: The tone of a piece is extremely important. If you are looking to find more information about a news story or event, seek authors who provide a neutral tone to the piece. If a piece uses powerful statements that are evoking feelings of hatred towards one particular group of people or event, that might be a clue it is not a neutral piece. Neutral articles provide an objective re-telling of information and allows you to avoid hearing only one side of the story.
- Get More Info: After you finish reading an article, don’t stop there! Find different articles covering the same topic. Multiple authors and writing styles will provide a broader scope on the subject and differing perspectives, providing a better overview of the news story or event.
- Talk It Out: After reading some articles and coming to your own opinion, talk about the event or news story with a friend or co-worker, who may be able to provide more information or can debate the pros and cons with you. This will also help circulate correct, credible information since you can support your statements with the articles you have read!
- Keep an Open Mind: One important piece of advice is never assume you know all there is to know about a news story. Stay informed, but also really listen to what others say and put aside your judgments and preconceived ideas. If someone says something that you don’t agree with, politely inquire them to explain further, ask what sources they got their information from, and do a quick search yourself for the information. News is constantly changing and evolving as more information comes to light. As my AP Lang Professor liked to say, “Knowledge is Power.” Arm yourself with credible sources and neutral authors, and one by one, we’ll beat this “fake news” epidemic, using our knowledge to improve society.