Which Media Can You Trust?

Information is coming at us from all sides. We get news from traditional media, and news from non-traditional media. We get tidbits of stories from our friends and family in person, and we get them from strangers on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/QAnon. Some sources clearly have a bias, some claim to have no bias, and some have a hidden bias.

How is an ordinary person to know which sources to trust?

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I just read an article that discusses exactly that dilemma, and comes to the conclusion that we cannot avoid reading or hearing about unreliable information sometimes. What we can do is to look for sources that thoroughly check the validity of their facts before publication.

The article is by Ben Smith who was the founding editor of BuzzFeed News. He has covered politics for a number of news media and he knows whereof he speaks. Among the very quotable statements in his article, he says:

“By 2015, the old gatekeepers had entered a kind of crisis of confidence, believing they couldn’t control the online news cycle any better than King Canute could control the tides.”

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But, since then things have changed. He points out:

” It turns out there is a big difference between WikiLeaks and establishment media coverage of WikiLeaks, a difference between a Trump tweet and an article about it, even between an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal suggesting Joe Biden had done bad things, and a news article that didn’t reach that conclusion.”

Recently, the establishment media have begun to reassert themselves and even to play some of the dirty tricks previously used by less authoritative sources. The free press has produced factions that compete not only for audiences but also for a reputation as trustworthy. It behoves us all to find out what is the underlying focus of our favourite media.

I recommend that you read the article entitled Trump Had One Last Story To Tell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn’t Buy It in the New York Times, and I will be interested to know your thoughts. The takeaway for me is that, when some surprising news about any politician comes out, I’m going to wait a couple of days. By then, the good researchers will have found out if I should care or not.

17 Comments

  1. Anne, I read that article in the NYT as well, and it was reassuring to read that some journalistic standard and some judgment had been applied to a decision on whether or not to publish the Hunter Biden story. As an aside, it was also interesting to read about the role that Giuliani played in rousing suspicions about the story.

    It’s important to understand the way that traditional journalism operates so that we can present reasoned arguments about reliable information versus disinformation. Having said that, I continue to worry about bias, and particularly about my own bias in selecting media sources.

    Good post! I hope you’re keeping well.

    1. It seems as though Giuiliani tried to sell his version of the story to a number of news outlets, with very little success. In the process, he made the whole thing look unreliable.

      I, too, am concerned about bias. I try to read across a wide range of sources, and I find that AllSides gives me a good sense of what various sources are saying. But, on the whole I remain centre-left.

      I used to think I was far left, but both the left and the right have moved further away from the centre.

      Yes, I am well, thanks. Going a little stir crazy, but otherwise fine. I hope you are, too.

  2. Thanks for the tip on AllSides. I’ll check it out.

    We’re doing fine as well. Hating the weather, but not much we can do about that.

  3. Unable to read it without opening an acoount and I’m not keen on doing that.
    If you want really trustworthy ‘media’ you can always read the bible. Can’t go wrong.

      1. *Shrug*
        It mentions nothing about free articles,( unless I missed it) only a series of options for opening an account.
        No biggy …

        Shame on you over the bible.

        1. Okay, I read it via my Google account.

          Not being that familiar with US politics I cannot get as worked up about this as some might.
          It’s not as if similar allegations haven’t been made about one politician or another and will be again I’m sure, and journalism will always go along for the ride.
          Of course, not every story will have Bernstein and Woodward characters behind them!
          A fairly large chunk of all politics seems to centred on, and often built upon corruption of one sort or another, no matter which country you look at.
          I am of the view that eventually it is all a big yawn/crap shoot ( to use an Amercan idiom) and all one can hope is that the ones in power are reasonably ethical ( for any given value of ethical) and they see out their term without involving the country in a war.

          Unfortunately I don’t see Trump being ousted this time around no matter what happens in the media.

          1. Yes, the corruption and allegations are par for the course. What is new is the amount of misinformation that is in circulation. We know that Russia deliberately planted disinformation in 2016 and during Brexit. Now it seems they are trying the same tricks and getting away with it.

            In addition, other players are getting in on the act. It is hard for ordinary folks to know how to tell legitimate news and information from the baloney.

            1. We’ve had the ANC since 1994 and I’m sure corruption is part of their manifesto somewhere. When election time comes around, local or national on occasion the race card is STILL used.
              It is all so tiresome.
              I prefer cakes, cats and growing vegetables.

            2. You are very wise to focus on cakes, cats, and growing vegetables. I don’t have a cat, and now that the ground is frozen I can’t grow vegetables. So, I guess that just leaves cakes. 🙂

  4. Anne, you probably saw this, but, if not, I thought you would find it a good follow-up NYT op-ed on the Hunter Biden story.

    Hmm, for some reason it won’t paste into this box. It’s Ross Douthat’s column, October 27.

    Nancy

    1. I checked my settings and chatted with a WordPress help person, but we couldn’t figure out why you couldn’t post the link. The advice was for you to clear your cache, but I think the problem is beyond that. I have had the same thing happen to me on other people’s blogs.

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