I had an interesting conversation last week that spawned a sidebar discussion about news. Not in covering news, but in consuming it.
We have so much information being pushed in our face, it feels a lot like Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future” getting that can shaken in his face with the woman saying, “Save the clock tower!” Only now, it’s increasingly difficult to know the reality of what’s being shaken in front of us.
As an example, earlier today I saw a news article come through my Facebook feed with what seemed like an interesting headline and was commented on by one of my friends. After reading the article it was apparent that this was an agenda being pushed by the author of the article and the site publishing the article.
After 15 years in the news media industry, I am pretty well-versed in determining what is actual reported news and what is not. However, for many other people, it’s not that easy. Many times I have heard about a story from a friend that I have questioned the facts on. When I ask about the source, they give some ridiculous website, like newsforfools.com. Don’t look up this site. I did. It’s not active. I made it up.
The point I’m trying to make is that it is so important to know what you can trust and what you can’t, as well as know what’s opinion and what is fact-based reporting.
This column is opinion. It is a smattering of my thoughts on specific topics. This should not be confused with fact-based reporting on stories, such as the one that is on the front page of today’s Tribune.
While I use facts to support opinion, I always urge people to develop their own opinions. My opinion is not always the right opinion — my wife can vouch for that. But basing your opinion on another’s opinion may not be the best solution. They may not have the same vested interests as you do or you may agree with some points, but don’t have all of the information that would impact your decision otherwise.
Trying to figure out if the content you are reading is opinion or fact is also not the only thing to be aware of. Using a baseball analogy, here’s where I throw you the curveball: Some of the content that you may read is also paid for. This type of content can be called advertorial, and it is paid for by a business or organization just like advertising. This type of content should also be recognized — many times it is noted as such.
That’s not to say that we should look at this as bad content, but it’s good to know that the space in front of you was purchased. There’s actually some good content that is paid for. It can be motivational, or informational, but it can also be leading.
This discussion comes at a critical time as we enter the race for our next president. If you are already sick of seeing political discourse amongst your friends and family with unchecked facts and info making it’s way into your news feeds, I don’t have good news for you — it will get worse.
Whatever your political affiliation, take the time to make an informed decision. Don’t take everything you read as fact. Know the source. Trust the source. Make the best decision possible when choosing our next leaders.
We, here at the Tribune, do our best to bring you news that is fact-based. We will continue to do so as we gear up for the political season and hope that we can be that trusted source of news for you. But remember, there will be opinions along the way … Save the clock tower!
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.
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