Be a player in today’s news landscape

By · Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Conflict. It’s a word with many meanings in today’s news landscape. Whether you are a journalist or a news consumer, put yourself in the editor’s seat for a brief moment and consider these three warning signs that will help you to navigate that landscape.

  1. Conflicting information. A story with conflicting information — numbers or reasons or causes or effects that contradict one another — raises questions for the audience. “What do I believe? Whom do I believe?” Editors have a responsibility to sort through the conflicting information and to give the audience any additional details that will help people draw their own conclusions. YOU must do that, too.
  2. No new information. A story that repeats old information with no new details will waste people’s time. Sometimes a story is a compelling read because of the topic, but a close look will reveal that “developments” are not new, and the story really is only a rehash of news that already has been reported. Sometimes, an editor must ask the question: “What’s new?” YOU must ask that, too.
  3. Only one source. Every story with only one source deserves close attention because even one source with good intentions can be wrong. Information in a story that comes from more than one source is considered more reliable; the story is stronger and the content is more believable. Sometimes an editor’s gut instinct dictates whether the story should be published with one source. YOU, too, must trust your gut instinct before sharing a one-source story.

These warning signs are simple ways to help all of us to act responsibly with information in our hands — before we publish it or before we share what has been published.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

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