Credible News Sources Versus Incredible Sensationalism: Getting at the Truth

By Janice Barlow

In recent days, America has been deluged with seemingly endless tragedies, both individual and massive. Hurricanes, earthquakes, a mass shooting in Las Vegas, raging fires in California, and the deaths of celebrities have and are bombarding our newsfeeds.  (I do say, America, because Puerto Rico is a Territory of the U.S. and Mexico is part of the American continent). All sources want to be first. But who gets it right?

Although we should never become jaded, inured to the horrors that seem to be occurring with increased frequency and magnitude, we should never jump on a story because we want to be among the first to spread it far and wide either. Where did it come from and does it have credibility? News reports are increasingly more rapid and wider in scope and variety of sources. Some sources are just not trustworthy at all, and most of us are well aware of this, but we see people who continue to use them. How do we respond?

Many of us use social media to get our news, because its simply quicker. Twitter often gets inside information on some news due to who knows who, but it is usually something in the form of a news leak which is easily verified rather quickly. And it is the verifying that is important.

The family of Tom Petty released the news of his actual death late on October 2nd, and it went viral on Twitter. But on Facebook, people were asking, “How do you know this is true?” Mainstream media did not have the report for at least another half hour, and hesitated to report it because of a “slip up” earlier in the day. But all was eventually brought to the surface and there was no questioning the death of the famous rock star.

On the other hand, some Facebook users will grab a story by a Conservative Treehouse blogger for instance, who states that truckers are organizing massive strikes in Puerto Rico and they post it everywhere, without a shred of credible evidence to back it. Ever.

We are told to verify.

We are told to use sources such as, Politifact, or even to determine if the “news” we are trying to decipher is true. But it is being released so rapidly, that the truth detectors have no time to verify what is being published. And they are sometimes either wrong or biased as well. Snopes has a liberal bias, for example.

One thing to keep in mind – a source with a widespread readership that reports credible news on a regular basis is not likely to get it wrong, especially not intentionally. I used the Miami Herald as a source last week in a debate about the Jones Act being lifted by President Trump for only ten days. This was a fact. But I was accused of using “a liberal rag.”

The Miami Herald has a weekly subscription rate of over 71,000 , not to mention online readers who are not subscribers, but read specific articles found in Google searches, like I did. It would not remain in business long if it were in the business of lying to its readers.

On the other hand, if a person were to compare the Herald to blog internet “news” sources, like Conservative Treehouse, and Gateway Pundit, which type is more accurate? How often is the truth twisted, or even missing in the biased blog news? How many of these sources are turning the Las Vegas mass murder in to a government conjured or other type of conspiracy? What is their readership and demographic?

A word to the wise – be cautious about what you choose to believe.

And even if it gets you in a heated debate, stand up for the truth! Tell the hysteria fanatics that they need to stop spreading fake stories everywhere, because it makes them look just as crazed. I personally got tired of the Islamaphobia and the Obamaphobia being pushed almost daily by about a dozen paranoid women in my friends directory, so I had to unfriend them. Obama is no longer president, and hijabs are not among the items in my Steinmart and Kohl’s shopping flyers each week.

Even if the credible news is somewhat boring, it’s the truth.

Don’t become part of the problem and stretch it into something it is not.

It becomes gossip. You become someone trying to frighten others because, maybe you somehow scared the daylights out of yourself. If that’s the case, social media is not the place for you. As you try to fool others, you have become the fool.

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