Letter to the editor: Critically examine a news source’s intent and proceed with caution
Unlike classical governments, the United States is best described upside down. Federal officials are truly in our employment, rather than citizens residing as subjects under their leaders. Ultimately, the success of our elected officials is measured only across the sentiments of the people. Bringing such clear reflection to the most eyes, including those of our leaders, rests squarely on the shoulders of the media. Such unelected power vested in the news is immeasurable and must be trusted with robust skepticism.
In my previous letter to the editor (“Practice banning misinformation from your daily life,” Dec. 31), I sought to explore the damage that can be done when misinformation is consumed in place of validated news. Striking a healthy diet from punditry and speculation is platinum on paper, but what cues signal that a story has strayed into the realm of misinformation?
The best advice I have to offer is to tune your podcasts of choice to NPR’s “Life Kit: How to Spot Misinformation,” which aired Oct. 30. Taking any news at face value is the principle sin. Allow yourself to be persuaded by what you consume only after you’ve convincingly vetted the source. Where did your source find its information? If it wasn’t firsthand, then what else might make your source’s information reliable?
Start by recognizing when misinformation makes its gravest threat. NPR finds this hazard in emotionally charged issues. Misinformation is likely to incite vitriol of a supposed opponent or perhaps anxiety that borders panic. Granted, some truths are worthy of strong emotion. But misinformation is destined solely to spark that emotion, regardless of the truth. So allow this to be your first red flag. Pause your response long enough to critically examine the author’s intent and proceed with caution.
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