Tiffani’s top ten tips for identifying FAKE NEWSLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Tiffani’s top ten tips for identifying FAKE NEWS

1. Understand that all media, including news, cater to their audience. Knowing the political leanings of the regular audience of this news source may indicate a known bias in the source, and vice versa.

2. Develop your “Fact-dar.” Always identify statements of verifiable facts from conjecture, arguments, and opinions.

3. Remember that just because the source is biased doesn’t mean everything they report is false. It does, however, influence what they report, and how they report it. You may only get one part of the story, or only certain parts of the story.

4. Consider the funding sources. Who owns this television network/newspaper/news magazine/ website, etc.? Consider the interests and political leanings of the funders/sponsors, and gauge any possible desire for the ability to influence based on what they may have to gain financially and politically from any particular slant on this current event.

5. Look at the relevance and context of the story. Ask yourself, “Why is this story important?” Also, “Why is this story important to this particular audience?” Consider where the story fits into a larger narrative being developed by any and all political parties or factions.

6. Cross-check the story with other sources with opposite bias, and see which facts match up and are undisputed, and which facts are left out by either source. For example, if it’s a domestic story, check international coverage. How does the international coverage differ from the domestic coverage? If there is no international coverage of the story, see #5.

7. Consider the general credibility and longevity of the news source. Is this a website that has just sprouted recently? Is this an article written under a pseudonym, or a chain e-mail? Is this a well-known reporter with a long public career and an impeccable record for accuracy? If this news story or information proved incorrect, would there be fact checkers and backlash exposing the mistake immediately, or would it go largely unnoticed? Is there a way to fact-check this information?

8. If mistakes have been reported by this news source in the past, have there been retractions, corrections, and apologies made public immediately? How often has this happened and what damage was done? Keep in mind that in an attempt to “break the story first“ in this time of instant news, innocent mistakes are made, but many journalists take their reputations VERY seriously, and will gladly expose each other’s weak/false reporting almost immediately. One mistake like this can kill a career, and to most it is not worth the consequences to be careless in their reporting.

9. If a conclusion is presented in the story, are the premises true? And do they lead necessarily to the given conclusion? (Hint, if there are premises and a conclusion, this is editorial and there IS a rhetorical bias. That doesn’t mean the facts are not true or the conclusion is not logical, but do not confuse this rhetorical argument with a completely factual news story.)

10. Know your logical fallacies. These simple rhetorical strategies sound very convincing, but they are not logical. By familiarizing yourself with these fallacies, you can identify them right away, disregard these arguments as unsound and illogical, and focus on gathering more concrete information on the subject to determine your position.

Top photo of Hollywood Blvd by Tim Forkes


About the author

Tiffani Van Ee

A former flight attendant, Tiffani A. Van Ee now balances her time as a travel writer, professional organizer, and single mother living in the Greater Los Angeles Area. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in 2011 from UC Berkeley and worked as a grant writer in Hawaii. Tiffani recently returned from a 10,000-mile cross-country sojourn in an electric car with her 7-year old. You can follow along on her continuing adventures on Instagram at @TeslaMom.usa - Twitter: teslamom_usa - Website: https://sparkjoyla.squarespace.com Contact the author.
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