ALESTLE VIEW: Media literacy is important now more than ever

 

Despite being popular in meme culture and a staple within President Donald Trump's tweets, fake news isn't a laughing matter.

 

As journalists and media consumers, being able to decipher what news is real or fake is important because it shapes the way we are informed and view the world.

 

Social media has made it easy for anyone and everyone to have a voice. It’s easy for false information to spread when it can be created by anyone, and it’s the ability to recognize the signs of false information that makes a difference.

 

At The Alestle, our primary goal is to uncover the truth and present such in the most objective way possible. It’s our goal to get the truth out, and when people spread fake news, it undermines our credibility.

 

We understand the apprehension associated with believing what’s been stated by the press; as a reader, everyone is allowed to decide what they take seriously.

 

Journalism isn’t a game. Our job is to inform the public as objectively as possible. We are not supposed to base our stories on bias, nor should we be jaded by hidden agendas.

 

We encourage everyone to check the facts. With all the information readers are given, they are able to research it, and they should do so. A big news story will have been reported by multiple credible sources.

 

A good way to check an article’s accuracy is to use sites such as Snopes and AP Factcheck.

 

Also think about whether an article makes you angry, is poorly written or if the photos don’t make sense — these are signs that something may be fake.

 

Some organizations, such as New Literacy Project, are focused entirely on teaching people how to utilize their ability to gain knowledge and become informed members of society.

 

We do make mistakes. Journalists are not perfect; it is possible for us to get something wrong, but when we mess up we publish corrections and acknowledge our mistakes.  Sometimes sources misspeak or give reporters the wrong information.

 

There are many reliable sources, such as NPR, who do their best to get the facts out and let their listeners form their own opinions about the information.  

 

Then, there is Facebook, which is a virtual powerhouse for fake, misconstrued articles and statistics. A lot of pieces circulating on Facebook are clickbait. Companies simply want to receive the most views, so they pull people in with a misleading headline.

It doesn’t help that any time President Trump sees his name in something he doesn’t like, he screams to the world that “fake news” has been released. This causes many people to second-guess the facts presented in a piece or at least second-guess their validity.

 

Journalists are doing their best to keep our country informed and therefore free. The freedom of the press gives everyone freedom to make up their own minds after being introduced to verifiable, concrete facts.  

 

 

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