The pop-culture-trivia-snark-list website Cracked (and how sad is it that the site based on the inferior magazine knock-off of Mad Magazine is still going and Mad has bitten the metaphorical dust?) has a post listing twenty ways not to be fooled by fake news. It starts out,
Thanks to the Twitters and the Facebooks of the world, these days we pretty much just get our “news” from the clickbait headlines we see while scrolling through poorly-made but still hilarious memes. Which sucks, because it’s pretty much ruining society. So here’s how to avoid becoming an uninformed angry internet denizen in the future.
Among the article’s observations:
- Don’t trust The Daily Mail. I knew it was basically a rag, but I didn’t know the Daily Mail has overtaken the New York Times as the most visited news website.
I’ve never used the Daily Mail for a story without checking other sources, but he’s right; it’s lazy. I won’t use it from now on.
- The use of the term “after ” in a headline implies causation that is often not there.
This is a New York Times specialty, particularly on Trump-bashing stories by reporter Maggie Halberman.
- The post warns of headlines that are composed to nab clicks but that do not accurately reflect the content of the story beneath..
Another New York Times specialty.
- This one was unintentionally funny, especially in the midst of the rest:
What reputable news sources? As the list amply demonstrates, there aren’t any!
- Watch out for “needless editorializing”…
You mean like in virtually every story by any news source about anything involving politics? The tragedy is that people need to be told this.
- Photos are misleading even when they are genuine, and often they are not.
Four caveats on the list involve deceptive photos or videos.
- Watch out for stories on both Reuters and Forbes. The former often posts press releases from organizations without checking or editing, and the latter…well…
I’m happy to say that I almost never use Forbes. I will now upgrade that from “almost never” to “never.”
- Beware of doomsday stories (what I categorize as “future news,” and the topic of the recently posted Michael Crichton speech and stories headlined or framed to provoke outrage.
Yet another daily specialty of the Times and the Washington Post.
- …and of course, polls and any any story containing “many experts say.”
But you already knew that, I hope.
Cracked’s list is still not complete, but staff writer Ryan Menezes did an excellent job. Read the whole thing. And this link you can share on Facebook, and I recommend doing so.
4 thoughts on “Here’s A “Little List” Worth Perusing: Fake News Clues”
On “needless editorializing,” it is as annoying as it is predictable.
It is not just politics; think the whole MeToo movement. You can’t read a story about anyone (Bill Cosby. Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, John Wayne,Marlon Brando, Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, etc.) without something to the effect of “though recent revelations make it impossible to watch X’s work without feeling revulsion, his work was revolutionary.”
That was a very bad fake quote. But, I read something to that effect about John Wayne in a list of Best Westerns (the movies, not the hotels) that could not mention True Grit (they might have even be talking about the Coen Brothers version) without alluding to the 1971 Playboy interview (or whatever it was).
I am not sure if it is a form of virtue signaling (this is good) or really a form of “vice signaling” (even though I am recognizing the accomplishment of this person, I am fully aware of how awful he is).
Sadly, most articles become unreadable because it quickly becomes obvious that I am reading a subjective interpretation of the facts. And not only do the writers make no pretense of objectivity, they think their writing is clever.
And, yes, political coverage is so much worse.
I read the “Cracked” article myself yesterday morning and thought it was quite good.
Q.E.D. WaPo lost me at the headline. When you assume facts that are unproven, and you have to rely on pointing up the reporter’s gender (that sexist pig DARED to be other than deferential to one of his betters), then the article that follows is going to a lot of “needless editorializing” and innuendo. Of course if you’re a lib, you’ll eat it up with a spoon and ask for more.
I check out the Daily Mail’s website… daily. It’s sloppy but it’s much less varnished than the NYT or WaPo. They’re not knee jerk doctrinal. I don’t trust them any more than I trust any other source, but they’ll take a straighter, more skeptical line on most stories so I think DM is a good place to start.