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Monday, November 18, 2019

How Many Carbs In Today’s News?

Most of us have learned to read the label when we buy food. We check the amount of calories, carbs or sugar before deciding what to eat.

Why don’t we do the same with news?

It may not be easy or fast, but it is possible to be a smart consumer of the daily news feed. Too often, we forward and share links to stories without doing our due diligence. 

I don’t particularly like the expression “fake news.” Either a report is news, or it isn’t. But whatever terminology we use, it’s important to appreciate the difference and avoid spreading untruths. 

Fortunately, news organizations, with an obvious vested interest, have created tip sheets and resources to help the public recognize what is news and what is not.

Here is a tip list recently shared by Huffington Post:

My Post Alley colleague Roger Downey worries that doing all this vetting might take too much time. “We need some acronym-able and easy-use set of rules to help us short-circuit fraud-streaming,” he says, suggesting that perhaps we hold a contest to come up with an easier way. If you have suggestions, share them in comments to this post.

Why is all this important? Well, truth matters. We’ve seen what happens when it doesn’t (just listen to our president). We have to be as savvy about what news we consume as we are about what food we consume.

Meanwhile, here are more resources to help you identify and avoid sharing misinformation.

Freedom Forum primer

The Seattle Public Library offers a fake news survival workshop along with related resources  

Real News About Fake News, a weekly roundup from Nieman Lab at Harvard

Linda Kramer Jenning
Linda Kramer Jenning is an independent journalist who moved to Bainbridge Island after several decades reporting from Washington, D.C. She taught journalism at Georgetown University and is former Washington editor of Glamour.

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