The importance of choosing your news sources wisely

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

 

As my two-year educational adventure at Parkland College comes to a close, I’ve begun to ponder on the 041_socialmedialessons I’ve learned while writing for The Prospectus. I began writing for the school newspaper in September of 2014.

While becoming an amateur journalist I picked up a few things along the way. I’d like to pass on at least one of those important lessons I learned.

That lesson is centered on the idea of knowing where your news comes from. It is absolutely, 100 percent your job to scrutinize all media sources and do your due diligence. In this so called “information age,” ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse for passing along incorrect or fraudulent information.

Since the forms of media are so varied in today’s day and age, one must be extra vigilant in understanding what they’re reading or watching, and where it comes from. The media doesn’t just consist of television, newspapers, and magazines anymore. It’s comprised of a global network that is accessible with the click of a button or swipe of a finger.

Let’s look at a few of those media outlets that have been around for a while. Television is one of those and is still a leader in bringing news and information into homes. With the addition of cable and satellite TV, the options of news outlets is nearly endless.

The problem with this plethora of news shows and channels is that it’s hard to find one that is completely objective. More often than not, the show or channel itself will fall along some sort of partisan line. While that may be good for some, it is certainly off-putting to others.

When an anchor’s newscast is permeated with their own, or their station’s political views it takes away from the overall message. You could watch two different station’s coverage of the same event and get completely different information. It’s true that this helps with ratings but convolutes the message attempting to be portrayed.

So be careful of which news show you’re watching. As a rule of thumb, always take it with a grain of salt.

Another traditional medium of news is the newspaper. Newspaper is arguably the oldest form of news. It’s been around since nearly as long as the printing press itself.

There has been much debate over the question of newspaper dying as a medium. This has forced newspapers around the globe to digitize and go online. In this sense they’re able to reach more readers but still offer that traditional copy that many are accustomed to.

Our own issues of The Prospectus are published online as well as in print weekly. Generally, newspapers attempt to remain more objective as a rule of thumb. That is not always the case as they capitalize on the shock and awe pieces in order to draw in readers as well.

Once again, if the story you’re reading seems too outlandish to be believed then do some additional research. That research will undoubtedly make you smarter about the subject in the long run.

Then we are faced with the multiple outlets of new age media. Many TV stations and newspapers have an online presence now. So for those that don’t have the time to read or watch, they can be accessed on a computer or mobile device.

This can lead to treacherous results, though. The most popular and controversial topics end up plastered across many people’s social media. So instead of them reaching one person, they are magnified exponentially.

There are also a number of satirical news websites out there. These need to be dealt with carefully. Several, like theonion.com, are fairly easy to notice as satire. Others are less transparent and can be shared in a way that is sure to incite some unneeded alarms.

So once again, that aspect of doing your due diligence and research really comes into play. When all of these media sources are not handled in the right ways, the results can be negative and unneeded.

So if you are able to do proper research and scrutinize the information you are taking in, then you can avoid the inevitable fearmongering that ensues. There’s no doubt that the last several years have been ridden with unsettling news which we must pay attention to. We must learn from these happenings and move on, not simply dwell on them. There is always that silver lining and a reassuring news story if you just know the right place to look.