3 ways to test your trust in today’s news

By · Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Now is a good time to share, again, some key ways that news consumers can test whether they can trust the information bombarding them about serious national issues in today’s news.

Try any — or all — of these three simple exercises.

  1. After you have followed your normal routine for consuming the daily news, go back to a story that interested you. Look at the attribution throughout the story. Attribution tells you where information came from, and it makes the story transparent. Ask yourself some questions. Is the attribution properly placed? How does placement of the attribution help your understanding of the story? Or, if it is misplaced, how is that a problem for you as a consumer of news?
  2. Follow some media outlets on Twitter. Pay attention to how news and information is shared by them. How is it attributed? Watch for key phrases, such as “exclusive” and “we just learned.” Likewise, consider whether the tweets point elsewhere to the source of information. If links are included, click on them. Do they take you to the primary source? See how quickly you can get to the primary source — or, whether you never do.
  3. Check in with your social media favorites and look for information that has been retweeted, shared and liked. Is the information attributed, sourced and substantiated? Sources indicate that others — not the reporter — provided information, and sources make the story credible. Substantiation gives support to information in the story, and it makes the story strong. In what ways is the information attributed, sourced and substantiated? As a news and information consumer, are you satisfied? If not, what is missing? Where will you go to find it?

Journalists want their audiences to trust them. They need that trust to exist and to thrive. When you try out these exercises yourselves, you are holding them accountable for keeping your trust.

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

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