Friday, July 19, 2013

Bad News Agencies and Outlets

I'm tired of bad news outlets. They spread misinformation, hate and ignorance.

How to spot a bad news outlet:

  1. Their links are only to their own articles.
  2. The links are only to other extremely similar small news outlets (or sister outlets).
  3. There are no links to the original source (or the original source is #1 or #2).
  4. They clearly have a strong opinion.
  5. They only have articles about a very limited idea scope (ie. all anti-democrat see #4).

Bad NewsPosting things on the Internet is really cheap. These outlets make their money from advertising so they make sensationalistic articles to drive traffic and therefore money to their site. Let's help put them out of business by not giving them the satisfaction.

Says who?

Whenever I see an article posted by a friend, the first thing I do is look for references. What did they base their opinoin on? Anyone can say that unemployment is going down, but without numbers to back it up it's just opinion. So in number 3 above I say always look for references, but you might run into another problem when checking references:

Incestuous Links

I have friends that have strong opinions. They will sometimes say pretty crazy stuff and I can link to them as a reference to shore up a crazy argument. Links will make me look more reputable. In the end I'm just doing what I said in #1 & #2 by linking to my friends and that's not a basis for establishing fact. Link to real data and real data sources! So if the Liberal News references their site and their sister sites like Liberal Monitor & Liberal Factbook, I will probably dismiss them as not reputable. You'll notice they link to similar sites that:

Say what they mean.

I know that seems like a good thing to say what you mean, but sometimes that leads to saying you mean that your way of thinking is the only way. "Being fiscally conservative is the only way to run a government" sounds like their mind is made up and they're only going to use facts that support their pont and none that oppose it. #4 above is a red flag that lets me know to look for #1-3. Since they have a strong opinion they probably have:

Tunnel Vision

Ever notice how someone extremely passionate and misinformed about something begins repeating themselves over and over? The Los Angeles Times, Reuters and even Cracked cover a large variety of subjects which adds to their impartiality and consequently their reputability. Many bad news outlets focus on a very narrow range of subject matter: All environmentalism, all conservativism, all liberalism or all anti-mormonism (gotta have a plug). These -isms should be another red flag.

Read Smarter

As you read around the internet remember these issues when you see a new article. The more you vet your news outlets the better informed you will be and the better equipped you will be against them. When someone who only reads these kind of outlets come to you with an article that "will change your whole outlook." You will be able to ask questions like: "how come they don't have references?" "Why do they only link to their own articles?" "Do you really think Chocolate tastes gross?"

Be aware.