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Is it really news?

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posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 07:15 AM
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There has been a growing awareness that the internet has created a great deal of noise: often repeated statements that appear to be factual but are not. Some call this "fake news." Others call it the "lying mainstream media." The choice of description depends on one's political orientation or belief system. In addition to deliberate black propaganda, or "disinformation," there has always been a buzz of rumor, gossip, urban legends, faulty reporting, and outright hoaxing.

Unfortunately, just as the internet has made it possible to access legitimate information, it has also made it easier to access false "information." As Mark Twain said in the age of telegraphy, "a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Contrary to what some rumor mongers have been saying, the First Amendment is not in danger in the United States. Your favorite alternative news sites will not be closed down, nor will the corporate media be muzzled. Freedom of expression is safe, which means anyone can say what they want if they are prepared to have someone else contradict them.

This freedom comes with responsibility. The first is on the part of the person (or entity) exercising that right. First and foremost, one must express one's self honestly. Unfortunately, many do not. In fact, they take advantage of the assumption of honesty to circulate falsehoods, whether for political ends or just their own amusement.

A subtler responsibility was pointed out by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his "Open Letter To America." As a writer in a state where censorship was imposed, he realized that one should only speak out if what one has to say is important. Unfortunately, social media have allowed everyone to say anything, however unimportant. It is this, even more than the deliberate distortion of truth, that has made it so difficult to tell what is real or important.

The "flip side" of this is the responsibility of those on the receiving end to exercise critical thinking. Every citizen in a free society must ask themselves two questions when receiving information: Is it true, and is it important?

The web is full of unimportant distractions passing as "news." Celebrity gossip, hoaxes, useless information... commonly called "clickbait," because their sole function is to lure people into navigating onto a website for commercial purposes. Although this would not seem to be harmful on the surface, it does create a great deal of noise, making it difficult for some to decide what is truly important,

What has become most controversial of late, however, is determining what genuinely important "information" is genuine or true. This is where critical thinking comes in. The same skills that allow you to spot a con artist can help you spot disinformation.

1) If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. If a story appeals to your emotions or beliefs, be sure to question it. Seek out multiple sources.

2) Evaluate whether a source is reliable. Learn about what constitutes legitimate journalistic practice. Do they rely on first hand reporting? Use multiple sources? Verify claims? Attribute statements properly?

3) Track stories back to their original source. The internet is an echo chamber that repeats things uncritically. Evaluate the original source along the lines above.

4) Be wary of a story that is repeated verbatim across multiple ideologically aligned sites, especially blogs. Again, trace the story back to its origin.

5) Seek out multiple views. If the story makes a claim about Russia, go to the Russian media and see what they have to say. If the claim is about China, check Chinese sources. You might be surprised by how many internet rumors fall apart when you take this simple step.

Remember, it is your responsibility evaluate the truthfulness of what you see on the web. No-one else can do it for you. If anyone has any other suggestions for evaluating online news, please suggest them below.
edit on 24-11-2016 by DJW001 because: Edit to polish style.

edit on 24-11-2016 by DJW001 because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 07:20 AM
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a reply to: DJW001
One element in the problem is that there are deliberately satirical sites, producing articles which are conscious jokes, and those articles are taken seriously.
There is one site, called something like "worldnewsdaily" which has already been responsible for several accidental hoaxes on ATS.



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 07:26 AM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: DJW001
One element in the problem is that there are deliberately satirical sites, producing articles which are conscious jokes, and those articles are taken seriously.
There is one site, called something like "worldnewsdaily" which has already been responsible for several accidental hoaxes on ATS.


Excellent point. Perhaps one can formulate the rule: "Beware of irony." Satire is usually based on irony. "Internet blogger convinces Neil Armstrong Moon landings were fake."



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 07:31 AM
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a reply to: DJW001
Yes, some people are even posting satirical columns from the New Yorker site. Short of abolishing the New Yorker, not much can be done about that.



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 07:37 AM
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originally posted by: DJW001
The "flip side" of this is the responsibility of those on the receiving end to exercise critical thinking. Every citizen in a free society must ask themselves two questions when receiving information: Is it true, and is it important?


Bravo. I learned more about Bashar al-Assad's political motivations in the 20 mins. it took me to read a few W.L. embassy cables than in three years of being exposed to MSM's take on the man.



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 07:55 AM
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While I agree with the premise of your post, I believe it's important that a distinction be made between online websites being ran by a small team that might get at most a few thousand hits a day... and the MSM that have become global media empires that reach into all news mediums, with many millions of dollars in funding, and many millions of views each day.

It's been pretty clearly proven this election cycle that both internet news sites and MSM news networks have willfully delivered fake news in order to drive their agenda. But clearly one is far more dangerous than the other - as evidenced by the current political/social/racial divide that the country is going through - which we can thank the MSM for literally manifesting.

Much of what you see on the internet is simply the push-back to the garbage coming out of the MSM.



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 08:15 AM
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So basically, the OP is pointing out that we can't seem to tell "news" from "propaganda" without engaging our brains.

Critical thinking, What a Concept?!

Unfortunately, many folks watch news as entertainment, deluding themselves that they are staying abreast of current affairs.

Back in "my day" we felt we could trust Walter Cronkite or the Huntley-Brinkley Report, second generation television journalists in the Edward R Murrow mold. Now, with the talking heads and media personalities there is no basis for "trust", no inkling that news stories are "true" and no differentiation between "news" and "editorial opinion".

Propaganda has been legalized. Think for yourselves!

ganjoa



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 11:00 AM
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The good thing about the internet is somebody who was there might have made a video and uploaded it. There can be analysis and discourse. The bad thing about the internet is anyone can make stuff up, anytime.

As an litmus test, just consider how many YouTubes out there show real UFOs.

Bangs gavel...



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 11:05 AM
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a reply to: DJW001

What a great wall of text that post that was...

It would have been much simpler to say that the responsibility is on the reader to determine whether news is fake/false/misleading, etc.


It will always be on the individual person... nothing will ever change that...no laws or regulations.

I have a book mark section in my browser, called NEWS.... in that bookmark, I currently have 27 news sites bookmarked.... about 75% US sites and 25% foreign news sites.

There is not much you can do for those people who insist on getting their news from a single source, such as CNN and you really can't blame them..it is ingrained in them. You ever noticed when you go into your doctors office or a government building.. if there is a TV on, it is most likely set to CNN news.




edit on R052016-11-24T11:05:45-06:00k0511Vam by RickinVa because: (no reason given)

edit on R072016-11-24T11:07:29-06:00k0711Vam by RickinVa because: (no reason given)

edit on R082016-11-24T11:08:29-06:00k0811Vam by RickinVa because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 11:14 AM
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a reply to: RickinVa


It would have been much simpler to say that the responsibility is on the reader to determine whether news is fake/false/misleading, etc.


Not only did I say that, I gave pointers how.



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