• October 27, 2020

Combating Fake News Takes Work, Here’s How

 Combating Fake News Takes Work, Here’s How

The congressional press corps with Senate Democratic leaders in the Senate Radio TV Gallery at the US Capitol. Photo by Matt Laslo

These days there are plenty of complaints about fake news. Some people loudly complain – or even convulse – when publications publish inaccurate, misleading, or pure click-bait headlines. But what makes our collective blood boil is when publications  just outright make shit up. 

We all want real, tangible and verifiable information; just as we all want misleading and fake news removed from  our social media feeds. But we’re struggling as a society with how to best test politicians for the ‘truthiness’ of their claims: Some want cable ‘news’ outlets to run truth tickers across the bottom of the screen as people are speaking to alert viewers of the truth being told – or the falsehoods being peddled. 

Blaming the media – Facebook, Twitter and Google – for the flood of fake news, doesn’t really wash. And expecting someone else to give you the “truth” is – IMHO – just another excuse to be lazy. 

It’s not up to the media to inform you every time someone is lying. These days, the news business relies on clicks and page views to sell ads, so it’s really up to each of us to be vigilant about what we read and especially what we share on social media. 

There are plenty of fact-check websites, but aren’t you curious about who decides what’s real and what’s fake in those instances? I know I am. 

So the next time you reach for the share button after merely reading a salacious headline, take a few more seconds. 

Here are some tips to avoiding Fake News (which is really no ‘news’ at all): 

1) Believe Your Eyes and Ears 

If a headline sounds too good to be true, it usually is (once a hard and fast rule, it’s been eroded in recent years). 

2) Check the Link

Sometimes the link itself indicates that the site is satire or fake. Check the website itself for other suspicious headlines and stories. Many fake sites and “satire” sites say so at the bottom or top of the page.

3) The First Shall be Last and the Last First 

Always make sure to search other reliable – if mistake-prone, as all publications are – news outlets for corroboration.  Search engines make this easy, and they even may help save your face! Cause it’s better to be correct and last, then first and wrong – and that rule applies to journalists and tweeters – or Facebookers – alike. 

4) Read Those With Whom You Disagree 

Just as iron sharpens iron: If you want to be a smart conservative, read smart liberals, and if you want to be a smart liberal, read smart conservatives, as TNS Managing Editor Matt Laslo lectures his classes: Challenge yourself to be smarter – and always keep an open mind, cause you may just agree with your political “opponent.”

5) Check the Batteries in Your Bullshit Detector 

Make sure your bullshit detector is turned to 11, because you’re gonna need it. Don’t be (too) cynical, but also don’t be naive. All politicians – from all parties – lie. Rise above the partisan distortion machines by seeking out accurate and respected sources. 

6) Common Sense is Queen

Perhaps most importantly, keep your finger off the share button until you check out the claims of the author. We all get too much crap in our inboxes as it is. And nobody likes a crap-peddler. 

Leland Rucker

Leland Rucker

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. He covered the popular music industry for years, worked extensively in internet and cable news, and co-authored The Toy Book, a history of OK Boomer playthings. Sweet Lunacy, his documentary film co-written and produced with Don Chapman, is a history of the Boulder music scene from the 1950s through the 1980s. He is author and editor of Dimensional Cannabis, the first pop-up book of marijuana.

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