Pamplin Media Group – Three Ways to Take Personal Responsibility for Media Literacy
Here’s how Oregonians can control the quality of the information they need to navigate a confusing information landscape
There is a lot of talk these days about fake news, the spread of false information, and the confusion of “alternative facts”. Here are three ways to assess the quality of the information you read when you consume the news.
You might be wondering why you can trust everything we say since we are journalists. We don’t ask anyone to trust us or any other journalist, but instead we ask you to trust yourself to use media critically.
Identify types of media
First of all, what is “the media?” ”
Media can be newspapers, news video packages, magazines, podcasts, billboards, advertisements, television, books, and, yes, propaganda. This is everything we share with a larger audience, or a mass medium. Media can also be stories or even memes shared on social media channels.
Think about it from a business owner’s perspective. There is no such thing as “media” – they are individual, competing news companies. While there are large media conglomerates in the country, the people of Oregon know how supporting local businesses can create a more thriving community.
This concept is the same in the information industry. Local media and local journalists are the backbone of national and international news, just as local businesses are the backbone of Oregon’s economy, which Governor Kate Brown has cited often.
A July 2020 Pew Research study found that most Americans believe local media are the most credible sources of information about the pandemic. So start by reading your local news sources first to build confidence in your own media literacy skills. For example, during the protests and riots in Portland over the past few years, many national media outlets have used photos and stories from our local reporters already on the ground and have more widely publicized the work of our reporters.
There are also different types of media such as advertising, propaganda, op-eds, and political commentaries. None of this information is journalistic. For example, popular political commentators that people often confuse with news are Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity. This type of content is meant to be commentary or analysis on current political affairs to help put people in context, but by itself, it is not journalistic news.
Investigate the sources
Second, check out the top sources cited. Primary sources are original documents, such as studies that have been published, diaries, manuscripts, autobiographies, official surveys, interviews with experts or stakeholders, and reports. Look for websites that end in “.gov” or “.org” or “.edu” as an easy first step to checking primary sources.
If the news you read is a good secondary source like journalism is supposed to be, it will name those studies or interviews, so you can go to the main sources with one click or search.
Having said that, it is extremely difficult to publish scientific and academic studies due to the peer review process, which is why we generally trust the results of these scientific professionals. For example, with the coronavirus pandemic, would you trust a single doctor study, or a study published by Johns Hopkins University?
Good journalism doesn’t tell readers what to think. Instead, it tells readers what to think about and draw their own conclusions.
Read as much as possible
But how do you know you can trust a news source to be unbiased?
You don’t. The best you can do is get your news from as many sources and angles as possible. Go ahead and watch Fox News, read The New York Times, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, The Associated Press, Poynter, US News & World Report, Business Insider, Al Jazeera, and Reuters. Read the Portland Tribune, Willamette Week, The Oregonian, The Columbian, and The Mercury. Maybe you want to follow a niche news source that interests you, like Bloomberg’s CityLab for Planners or The Washington Post’s The Lily for Millennial Women.
Instead of following your favorites on social media, you can download the apps for each post so you can see each set of headlines on the front page in your notifications without any social media algorithms affecting what you see. Or, if you’re the type who hates cluttering your phone with apps, most newspapers have newsletters that you can subscribe to on specific beats so you can receive the main headlines of your favorite topics directly via email.
Studies show that when communities have access to local information, the population is more involved in the civic process, facilitating the democratic process: the voice of the population, well informed of the news, is heard and shared.
Sadly, at least 900 communities across the United States have completely lost local community newspaper coverage since 2004. More than 90 local newspapers across the country have closed their newsrooms since the start of the COVID recession, and approximately 37,000 reporters. , including those working for Pamplin Media, have suffered cutbacks or time off, according to recent counts from Poynter and The New York Times.
Is the diminishing role of newspapers reaching the unrest and protests we have seen across the country? In some ways, yes, as it leads to polarized opinions and the feeling that different people are not being heard, that their voices have no place to be represented, and that government decisions do not reflect their opinions.
If you want to help rebuild Portland and Oregon, build a relationship with your favorite local news company and maybe make a deal for ad space. You are helping your local newspaper, your community, and your own business, while holding your local politicians and government officials to account.
You depend on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Good local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.