Trying to keep up with election news can be frustrating. Which news sources should you follow? How do you filter biases from fact? If you want to be informed, with the least amount of bias possible, keep reading for 5 considerations to keep in mind while looking at the news!
1) Who is writing it?
One of the most important considerations in finding a credible source is the source! Can you imagine if Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton were the authors of their own articles? Of course, they would try to persuade their audience of their beliefs! Keeping the author and who they represent in mind, the best source of election news are those that are non-partisan. (a short list of non-partisan sites are listed at the end of this post).
Do keep in mind the following:
– What are the author’s credentials? This encompasses their institutional affiliations, educational background, experience in the subject matter, associations, and much more.
It might seem daunting to filter and consider all of this, but research is paramount for receiving the most accurate information!
2) What type of source is it?
Is this a news story, an editorial? Blog? Perhaps even an ad?
The type of news source will have differing content. A news organization will produce work that is usually cited and verified. If it’s an editorial, a blog, or something else that is of the sort, it will most likely be very opinionated and might even be politically slanted.
3) Why are they writing this?
The purpose or intent behind a news source is key when reading. If their goal is to persuade you, what are they trying to persuade you of and more importantly, why? If their goal is to inform, then this might be a keeper. Keep reading. On the other hand, a more opinionated blog post might be written for any number of reasons, and should not be considered representative of the news.
4) Where’s the evidence?
Who does the author cite as their evidence? Is this merely hearsay? Or the evidence a document, a publicly witnessed event, or even speculation?
For these news sources, after considering the evidence, you want to keep mind of the quantity of evidence. Is there a single source to confirm their sayings? Or are there several?
Take in this information with a grain of salt. Would you believe something someone just happened to say (i.e. hearsay)? Not after this, you won’t!
Again, the type of information is important too. If they include samples, surveys, or polls, is it representative of the general public? Who paid for the survey, poll or other research conducted collection tool?
5) Was the news source’s information verified by a third party?
As Election Day is approaching, one of the biggest concerns is “How do I know if this is true or not?” The answer is actually quite simple. You can use an assortment of fact check sites that are readily available to the general public. All you need is access to the web, and off you go. If you really want to double check, you can always use more than one fact-checker. In fact, this is encouraged. You can never be too sure. (Reliable fact-check resources are posted below)
Resources for your use
Examples of non-partisan sites are:
http://www.opensecrets.org/index.php (checks to see financial contributions and possible decisions that were influenced)
With election day looming close by, these tips should keep you sharp and prepared. Take this knowledge with you as you consider news sources you come across daily for a much more informed and perceptive view of trustworthy content.
*This guide was prepared by DCEP student Maryanne Abdelmesih