“With all the media ‘clutter’ out there today, how do you go about sorting out (a) what is factual (b) what is biased (c) what is important to you as a consumer (d) and what is important to you as a member of society? How do you personally go about verifying what you consume?”
In my opinion, if you want to find out the truth in all the media “clutter,” sometimes you have to work for it. For some reason, some media outlets today don’t rely on actual facts when they report on certain situations and that’s not good journalism.
(A) How do I go about sorting out what is factual?
I look at a couple of factors when reading news — credibility, objectivity and accuracy — the cornerstones of journalism. First, if the sources are mostly unnamed in a story, then I have reluctance to trust it. For example, look at all the tabloids. Their stories are almost exclusively told by “a source close to” said person. In my mind, I just assume they’re made up quotes — not credible. Secondly, how objective is the media outlet? If I’m reading a news story, then I don’t want someone’s opinion. I want to see a situation from multiple angles, so, if a liberal news outlet is only using liberal sources, or a conservative outlet is only using conservative sources, then I am less likely to trust them because they are relying on confirmation bias and that has no place in real journalism. Lastly, is the information I’m being presented accurate? There are a couple of ways to check this: one is by reading articles by multiple news outlets. My go-to is either The Washington Post or CBS News because they are generally neutral and I don’t feel like I’m being sold an agenda. If I notice there are a lot of factual errors in a story, then I won’t trust that outlet, simple as that.
(B) How do I go about sorting out what is biased?
Like I said above, what kind of sources are they relying on? Can I count on this outlet to give me unbiased information?
(C) What is important to me as a consumer?
That’s easy — truth, good reporting and a willingness to always do better.
(D) What is important to me as a member of society?
The same as above.
All in all, in today’s news, it can be hard to decipher what is real and not real. But if you really want to know the truth, it isn’t that hard to find.