A stack of newspapers

Fact or Fiction: Navigating Information in the Era of Fake News

By Ally Bolender
Web Content Contributor

Regardless of how you get your news, unfair news practices are unavoidable. As the era of “fake news” is upon us, it has become increasingly difficult to determine how reliable a piece of information is. 

The term “fake news” is not exclusively incorrect information, but more so an umbrella term, including biased news or reports backed with little evidence. Drawing independent decisions becomes a challenge as our news sources turn to biased information in order to promote political agendas. 

Fake news that is intentionally masqueraded as factual news coverage is arguably the most difficult to disprove without the right resources. These resources can help combat the common mistake of using false information to form opinions. 

Become aware of the amount of fake news, misinformation, disinformation and biased news online by regularly mixing in these resources into your daily news intake.

1. Source-checking with Media Bias/Fact Check.

Avoiding biased information becomes easier when you know what outlets to read from. I’m sure you have all heard of fact-checking, but what really helps when avoiding misinformation is source-checking.

There are many websites that review news outlets on scales of bias. My personal favorite is Media Bias/Fact Check. This website allows you to search for news outlets, or browse from their extensive list, and find how they are scaled from far-biased left to far-biased right. In addition, this website informs you if the outlet uses propaganda, false information, and gives insight on how frequently the outlet is citing sources. Also, it lists questionable sources so you know where not to get your news.

There are plenty of fact-checking websites out there nowadays, but I prefer Media Bias/Fact Check because it is frequently reevaluating its sources with updated and more detailed source-reviewing formats. Also, this website runs the sources by many other popular source-checking websites before evaluating it with their own format. 

I encourage you to check out your favorite news organizations on this site and see where they land on the bias scale. It provides insight as to why an organization may push or pull certain information to or from their readers.

2. AllSides news feed.

The information regarding a Senate GOP vote is shown by three different stories. From the right is Fox News, from the left is Politico, and from the center is Wall Street Journal.
A story shown from All Sides. Screenshot by Ally Bolender via AllSides.

AllSides is an online news site that has an interesting way of presenting readers with current events and politics. It is a news feed that shows stories from the left, right and center perspective.

The idea originated from the concept that unbiased news is nonexistent, therefore the easiest way to form one’s own opinion is to see how the different political parties shape the provided news. 

I recommend visiting sites like AllSides because not only does it present nonpartisan news, but it educates readers on how to become familiar to biased news. I believe once someone is exposed to the tactics reporters and journalists use to get clicks and evoke emotions out of readers, they become better news consumers. After all, practice makes perfect. 

All sides makes the political leanings of hundreds of media sources transparent. Websites like this free people from partisan bubbles so that we can better understand the world and each other.

3. Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank.

A screenshot of a story by Pew Research Center, “Majorities of U.S. veterans, public say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting.”
A story by Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank. Screenshot by Ally Bolender via Pew Research Center.

Fact Tank is simply news supported with data– and numbers don’t lie. Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank is real-time analysis and news about data from the Pew Research Center writers and social scientists.

Fact Tank provides articles regarding trends and news that are supported with data from a neutral perspective. It provides readers with analysis that allows one to configure opinions become educated on recent research. 

This news-in-numbers is a great resource for news consumers as there is no way to bring bias into the statements. It allows readers to better understand trends which would otherwise be phrased in a political standpoint on many news platforms. But don’t take it from me, view recent articles on the reputable organization’s website to find out what is going on in the world and how people feel about it.

4. Politifact’s Truth-O-Meter.

Politifact is a non-profit organization that vows to provide truth to the people. The organization takes quotes from politicians and leaders, rates how truthful their claim is, and provides evidence to support their ratings. 

Politifact is an excellent resource to frequently check during election periods and debates. You can use to search bar to find information about a quote you’re looking for, or scroll through the main tabs which organizes claims in categories by people, truth-o-meter ratings, and promises. 

Aside from providing truth behind claims, Politifact discredits information shared by facebook users and images provided with incorrect context. Search fact-checks by subject– Politifact has information on numerous topics from terriorism to the weather. In addition, Politifact presents a rating system on how truthful a politician’s statements are. 

Always make sure you’re getting the right information by checking with Politifact, that way you can make informed decisions based on facts, not just because someone said so.

The most well-rounded thinkers acquire and react on information from different perspectives and understand that there is always two sides to a story. 

Regardless of what outlet information is obtained, there will always be opinionated, misleading, and blatant lies circulating through media. But once an individual can recognize these statements, and respond to them with independent thinking, the media is their oyster. 

I hope these resources can help you find the information you’re not necessarily looking for, but the information you are entitled to.

Featured image by Michael Schwarzenberger via Creative Commons.





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