MEDIA LITERACY & EDUCATION
— “Alt-Right” is Not a Thing. It’s White Supremacy. (The Nation)
— Alt Right: A Primer about the New White Supremacy. (Anti-Defamation League)
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A lot of fake and misleading news stories were shared across social media during the election. One that got a lot of traffic had this headline: “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide.” The story is completely false, but it was shared on Facebook over half a million times.
TACTICS FOR DESTROYING INDEPENDENT MEDIA
(Be on the lookout for these tactics as a means of destabilizing media credibility. This list is courtesy of Robert Reich, as a commentary on Trump offering a special private meeting for TV media. New York Times was one of the few outlets which declined, based on journalistic integrity.)
1. Berate the media. Yesterday Trump called two-dozen TV news anchors and executives to the Trump Tower – including Lester Holt, Charlie Rose, George Stephanopoulos, and Wolf Blitzer — to chew them out about their reporting during the election.
2. Blacklist media that criticize them. Trump has maintained a blacklist of news outlets to which he has refused to grant event credentials. This morning he cancelled a meeting with the New York Times.
3. Turn the public against the media. Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” He tweets that the New York Times has lost “thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the ‘Trump phenomena.’” (The Times says it added 41,000 net paid subscriptions in the week after the election.)
4. Threaten the media. Trump says he’ll “open up our libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
5. Block media access. Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July. He has blocked the media from traveling with him, or knowing whom he’s meeting with. (His phone call last week with Putin was first reported by the Kremlin.)
6. Establish their own alternative controlled media. Trump sends messages through Alt-Right Breitbart News and Fox News.
7. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly. Trump uses tweets and videos. The word “media” comes from “intermediate” between newsmakers and the public. Trump wants to eliminate the media.
BASIC TIPS FOR ANALYZING NEWS SOURCES
Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources.
Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
If the website you’re reading encourages you to DOX individuals, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.
It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
© 2016 by Melissa Zimdars.
The work ‘False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources’ is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/