Back about ten days ago, I got wind somewhere of a female professor at some college I’ve never heard of who posted a list of “fake news” sites. Geez, I asked myself. Who is this woman? Where did she come from, and why did she so suddenly get so famous?
The story wouldn’t have turned into such a big deal, except that somehow, it attracted a rash of MSM sites to promote it. So: Was she paid to do it? If so, by whom? Or did the story just “happen” to hit the eye of a mainstream source and conveniently generate a new meme: that alternative news sites are, by definition, fake?
I just went to the source of her news, a public google doc for her students called Tips for Analyzing News Sources — and wow, I notice that some of her tips are much the same as the ones I would give. For instance:
• 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.
• 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.
I would add the following:
• With individual bloggers and experts, read the ones you are attracted to long enough to become familiar with their usual point of view (bias). That will to discern whether or not to pay attention to their future posts and if so, how to read them.
Meanwhile, of course, this “news” about “fake news” led a lot of alternative news sites to turn the tables and accuse various MSM stories of being fake.
And meanwhile, now the Washington Post has climbed in on the rollicking back-and-forth action in a big, foolish way. Its obvious bias makes nonsense of any semblance of “objectivity” which, however, did deserve to die an incendiary death long ago.
Let’s face it: there is no such thing as “objectivity.” All “news” is from a particular (limited) “point of view” within the infinite space of possibilities, no matter how wide-angled that “news” may appear.
This story, of course, drew well-earned scoffing:
And to cap it off (at least for me) Jay Dyer of jaysanalysis weighs in with his standard, unusually wide-angled, point of view: