Not Everything Is A Fact, Check Your Sources
I, for one, could not have predicted that “fake news” would actually be a term that was ingrained into our vernacular. Just think about it. News was supposed to be just the facts. I remember “Current Event Fridays” in social studies class. We were trained to bring in primary news sources. It never occurred to me that we would be tested on this today; that I feel like I have to actively search for a news source that I trust.
So let’s define a primary news source. A primary source “provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art” according to the Ithaca College Library. So this means an eyewitness report. That includes eyewitness accounts, fieldwork reporting, interviews, emails, legal documents, etc. Examples: ABC eyewitness news or an article in “The New York Times” from a reporter in the field.
This should not be confused with a secondary news source. Secondary sources “describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources” also according to Ithaca College Library. That means magazines, commentary, and editorials. This might include an editorial piece in “The New Yorker”. This article I am writing is a secondary source. I am commenting on facts and offering a perspective but I did not publish these facts myself. It may be difficult to decipher the facts from opinions probably because many people state their opinion as facts. But spend the time reading through the source before deciding if you trust the information.
Now that you can identify a primary news source, it’s also important to familiarize yourself with the political party that each news source leans towards. In December 2016, patent attorney, Vanessa Otero posted an illustration of where each news source lies on the spectrum of bias and credibility. Again, this is only one person’s interpretation and I’m sure thousands disagreed but it certainly gives good insight for someone who is trying to establish a routine of checking sources and identifying sources you trust. Now I am a proud liberal but I make a habit to check both liberal and conservative news sources in order to find the truth without bias.
It seems ridiculous to me that in this moment we live in a world where can’t trust the news at face value like we did when we brought our local newspaper clippings into social studies class. But I encourage you all to put in the effort to check your sources to ensure that you are a well-informed member of this country. The news gets scarier and scarier every day but as a writer and a citizen, I am trying my best to put in the work to stay as woke and informed as I can.