A journalist’s job is to gather information and verify whether it’s true—and then report on it.
Journalists and news outlets use this standard to determine truth and accuracy: V.I.A. Verification Independence Accountability
Verification This is the process that establishes whether something is true and accurate--or not.
President Lisa has been shot in her office—is it true? How do you prove it?
Find more than one good source: • Go to the scene—her office. • Ask an official from the college to confirm. • Check with the police and hospital where she was taken. • Interview eyewitnesses. • Call her family for comment.
Independence Journalists and news outlets must be free from the control, influence or support of interested parties, coupled with a conscious effort to set aside any pre-existing beliefs and a system of checks and balances.
You work at Reuters News Service and the Dominican Republic Tourist Bureau offers you an all-expense paid trip to cover a new resort in Samana. Should you take it?
You’re a correspondent at ABC News and your husband becomes the governor of California. Should you stay in your job?
You land an exclusive interview with an up-and-coming rapper for Vibe Magazine. He asks for $300. Should you pay?
You’re a reporter at Businessweek. You get a hot tip to buy stock in Makerbot which makes 3 D printers, so you purchase some shares. You then get assigned to write about the 3-D printer craze. Should you?
The rules? • You can’t be paid to report a story. At the highest levels, you can’t pay someone to give you the story. • You can’t write about your family or friends. • You can’t report on a company that you work for, own stock in, have a vested interest in. • You can’t go on a trip that a company pays for and then write about the destination.
A journalist or legitimate news outlet must be accountable: • Use named sources or have notes and recordings to prove that the reporting is correct. • Use bylines so you know who wrote the story. • Make corrections if necessary—rather than leave mistakes on the record.
Good Sources for your research (never use just one!) • Search engines—google, yahoo, msn etc. • News sites and content aggregators: NYTimes.com, cnn.com, pbs.org, yahoo and google news. • Databases: Nexis/Lexis • Government websites: city, state, federal • Independent, nonprofit organizations: American Heart Association • A person’s own website.
To be a smart consumer of news: • 1. Ask yourself, what am I looking at? • 2. Think critically about the source? • 3. Learn to spot bias. • 4. Beware of wikipedia. • 5. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled.
What am I looking at? • Is it news? Opinion? A blog? Gossip? Advertising? Propaganda?
Know the difference between news and opinion (these journalists are paid to be opinionated!)
Think critically about the source. • Who created the report? For what purpose? How was the information verified? Is it presented in a way that’s fair? • FOLLOW THE $$$$$$$$
Learn to spot bias. • Watch for loaded or inflammatory words. Does the author have an agenda? The news outlet? • Are all sides of the story presented? Did the subject respond?
Journalists and news outlets use this Verify information Are Independence Are Accountable to the public
As a consumer of media, don’t forget to: • 1. Ask yourself, what am I looking at? • 2. Think critically about the source? • 3. Learn to spot bias. • 4. Beware of wikipedia. • 5. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled.