In this day and age of our presumed highly charged political environment, we often can be found asking ourselves, “Is this true, or even real?”, upon after looking at our favorite news sites. Finding out what might be true or not can be somewhat of a daunting task if you really want to know and understand what might be going on in the world today.
In the world of business, everyone seems to have the new and improved next best thing.
This is how it all works. News sites aren’t really any different than this. Theirs is to draw in more readers. The more readers a site has, the more the site can charge for advertising, and so it goes. Money is the end game in the news media, just like it is in the overall world of business.
Understanding that doesn’t really answer the question of what’s real. But it’s a first step in the process of who you might potentially trust when it comes down to selecting your favorite news sources.
Learning who to trust, or not, in the news media game can take many steps or a few steps depending on how much of a skeptic you might be. You may only investigate a news source in relation to what you might have been taught to believe as a child and be fine with that, or not, it’s all up to you.
These are going to be some of your first questions in your quest to find some of your first answers.
Is this news site legitimate? (legitimacy can be a rather subjective term to those who might be inclined to being ideologically hobbled) — Does it really try to present opposing views in an equal and timely fashion? Keep in mind that there are those in this world that aren’t in the least bit interested in having any sort of conversation, much less respecting anyone with an opposing view.
Whenever I find myself wondering about the legitimacy of a news site, especially a site that I’ve never heard of before, I head straight to www.whois.sc and look up the domain name. If I was just some plain old John Q Public and had recently came upon the opportunity to look up www.TheDrum.com — I would find that it’s being hosted on the part time servers of AmazonAWS out of Seattle Washington. I might discover that the domain is being hidden using a site hiding organization called PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC. —
Though this site purports to be a news site, is it really? Is this site really a trusted source for news? It’s articles look legit, right? http://www.thedrum.com/us — or, just for the sake of argument, is this one of those Russian hacker news sites trying to sway American public opinion I keep hearing so much about? We can ask these questions because we don’t know who actually owns it, right? If, for instance, I did contact the owners of the site through the contact form, how would I know they were telling the truth? I could be told anything, because, after all, this is the internet, and a place where you can put on aires and pretend you need to be anybody or anything you want at any particular moment.
I’m pretty sure that if the U.S. Dept of Justice inquired about the site, Amazon or the ICAAN would be compelled to respond with the truth. But average Americans wouldn’t be able to accurately determine the site legitimacy on their own, and based on that premise, I would venture to guess that John Q Public would have to write this site off as pure entertainment, and declare it as being a fake news site (regardless of whether he agreed with the site message or not).
As an aside, you can see by the paragraph above, that sensationalized commentary has eroded the legitimacy of the entire news industry. If big news were totally above the board, like they say they are, we wouldn’t have to be asking many of these kinds of questions in our search for the real, albeit, ever so boring, news.
www.whois.sc is your friend — Doing business with, or giving a certain legitimacy to any site that hides behind Privacy Protect is usually not the best idea. (Privacy Protect is an extremely valuable tool that might be used by private individuals, not businesses or so-called legitimate news organizations)
Do headlines actually match the written content on the page? There are those in our industry that promote sensational sounding headlines in order to garner clicks into a rather dull and boring article write that has nothing to do with the headline. (Is your favorite news site trolling you for clicks?)
CNN does this — Here we have a headline, and once you click on the headline link, a video is presented that has absolutely nothing to do with the headline. These sorts of bait-and-switch tactics are a major part of what’s wrong with today’s news industry.
How does the particular news site get you to click?
Well, there could be a number of ways. Nefarious news sites will more often than not shoot from the hip with headlines intended to play on your possible fears, doubts, or prejudices. Drawing the anger out of a reader pays huge dividends at the end of the day via equally huge advertising fees.
The news industry of today isn’t anywhere near how it was 40 years ago. It used to be that the news mattered most. But news is dull and boring. News is just that, “News”.
News doesn’t pay nearly as well as as opinion does.
Over the years news has given way to opinion. There’s a pretty big difference between being a news reporter, and being a commentator. Commentators only comment on just the key points of a possible news story, and then turn around and tell you what to believe, or think, or whatever. Commentators are actor/entertainers, not news reporters or journalists. Since real news is mundane and boring, someone came along and tried to make it interesting by coloring the news with their own personal opinion. All of the big names in the industry does this. MSNBC, Fox News, CBS News … all of them.
Anybody that’s been around the industry long enough would certainly remember Walter Cronkite — Trust me – Walter was no actor, and though we all loved him, watching the news in those days was tantamount to listening to paint dry. Walter Cronkite was trusted by the nation, but all of that trust couldn’t pay the bills or the mortgage, so big news had to come up with something else that could.
So how can you tell which news site is giving you the real news?
Since most just provide commentary, the best we can do in this case is to select the one that has the least amounts of commentary. This is the point where getting off of the front page might help. Looking through the back pages of a news site, especially on the big news sites might garner a glimmer of hope for those that aren’t interested in what a commentator thinks. No site is totally useless because even the big guys can get it right once in a while.
Most real news can be found in local outlets. Local news sources don’t have the time or the money to push a political agenda or tell you what to think, so they can be counted on for more real news than the big guys can – Local outlets are usually where all of the real journalists are found anyway, so it just stands to reason that your real news will be found there too.
There’s an old saying, “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see, and you’ll be all right”.
At the end of the day, you are going to settle in with who you might feel most comfortable with as it relates to your preferences on commentary – Keep your commentary, but search for the real news whenever you can – Real news usually doesn’t have a political bent to it so you should be fine knowing that you won’t have to run off to a padded room somewhere when you hear it or read it.
You’ve watched your commentary, now jump out there and search for the real news – See what’s really going on in the world for a change.
Until next time, and thanks for the read.