In the era of social media and divisive political campaigns, even some news agencies are taking sides. That means millions of Americans in search of unbiased political news are at a disadvantage. Fortunately, a few tips will help you stay above the fray.
Know the Stakes
It is easier than ever for someone with no qualifications to present information as fact online. Even worse, some of the false claims being published are actively meant to deceive people. The motives might vary, but the result is the same: a misinformed public. In the long run, that can have impacts in our elections, institutions and across various facets of society.
Know the Sources
Sometimes it’s easy to tell whether a site has a partisan bias. It can be more dangerous, however, when a source falsely claims to provide unbiased political news. Do your own research into any assertions that don’t have proper verification. A reliable source will cite firsthand information or directly link to credible reports. Any site expecting you to accept a claim at face value might be playing fast and loose with the facts.
Trust Your Instincts
At the end of the day, even the most seasoned journalists can get it wrong. But for the average news consumer, the trick to staying properly informed lies largely in common sense. If it sounds absurd, includes strange citations or doesn’t pass the smell test, try to verify it through another source.
In a way, it has now become the job of all citizens to fact check the news. The rise of opinion journalism has made it tough to find any truly neutral information. Fortunately, knowing the realities of this current media landscape can lead to a better informed public all around. It’s up to each of us to seek out reliable information and share it, resisting the immediate appeal of fantastic allegations and click-bait.