A Beginner’s Guide to Staying Informed

A reputable source is backed up with verifiable evidence and lacks bias. There are a lot of indicators of a reputable source that you can test by looking at the website. For example, if a news site is littered with ads and pop-up content, it is likely not reputable. The same thing goes for sites without citations for their claims and sites without an organization listed.

Bias is “prejudice in favor or against one thing, person, or group” (Oxford Languages). It is critical that a news article lacks bias, so the reader can form their own informed opinion. To avoid this, read multiple sources about the same subject in order to examine the differences. For example, Fox News and CNN cover news very differently, so reading more than just one source can help you evaluate the biases of each organization.

Confirmation bias is something that really clouds your ability to stay informed on many topics. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that confirms your beliefs and avoid information that will challenge them. For example, if you were anti-broccoli and only read news from institutions that are biased against broccoli, you would likely feel more justified in that opinion when in reality you are disregarding information about the health benefits of broccoli from opposing journalistic institutions. Consuming news from many different sources can help form a more informed opinion.

Misinformation is “false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive” and disinformation is “false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media” (Oxford Languages). While they are similar, the main difference is who is issuing the false information. Recently, these have been rampant in the media, and even the President fell for this and had to retract a statement, so it is important to stay hyper-vigilant. Ways to do this is to be weary and think critically! Ask what are the goals of this specific news organization and what sources they have listed. Run suspicious images through AI detectors and use fact-checking sites for anything that seems just a little too crazy to be real.

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