News sources get things wrong, their editors have biases, and their revenue streams dictate where their values lie. There is no best source of news and getting all of your information from one source is just dumb. Everyone has a narrative. You are naturally drawn towards news sources that share many of the opinions you already hold. One fact should have multiple sources that verify whatever claim is being made. The list is at the bottom.
How Do I Know Which News Sources To Use?
What you already believe may be false. Keep that in mind at all times. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Be skeptical of everything I write, too.
Nothing is set in stone, and you need to be able to discern when a reliable source has become an unreliable source.
Narrative. How are they painting a picture of the events? Each source is a flashlight shining on the issue. What they choose to highlight, about the facts, will indicate what their priorities are. Narratives change.
You change, too. You have biases. Those change. Maybe you join a cult—the only source of info is your cult leader.
In general, we want to cross-reference news sources through bias-checkers: Interactive media bias chart 5.0, AllSides Media Bias Ratings, Media Bias/Fact Check, and company information on Wikipedia are all good places to start. Bias/fact-checkers should have the methodology used, listed. They don’t all agree, but that’s ok. It just means you need to research more.
Opinion sections and idiot pundits are considered separate from news sources: any organizations that rely on those and high-speed chases need to be heavily scrutinized.
A source’s political leanings are also based off of what the readership believes and leans toward, not just the source itself.
Falsifiability: can the claim reasonably be proved wrong? If you claim that something is true because of a lack of evidence, then that’s a conspiracy theory.
Just because one thing is correct or incorrect doesn’t necessarily mean that that affects the truth value of other claims.
Maybe (for no reason in particular) it’s (somehow) proven that JFK shot himself and everyone agreed to blame it on Lee Harvey Oswald. Not every narrative can be true, but every narrative can, in fact, be false.
What’s The Actual Definition Of Fake News?
Claire Wardle has stated that there are seven types of fake news. Fake news ranges from your grandparents misunderstanding satire to Orwellian propaganda. The most convincing fakes are those closest to the truth (e.g., years-old, real photographs used in newly fabricated stories). Trump’s definition of fake news is anything “about me [that] is negative (Fake).” That settles it. Only positive things are true⸮
Which Ones Are The Best Ones “For Facts?”
While they don’t always agree with one another, fact-checkers. I’ve heard someone not accept Snopes as a source, because it disagreed with their conspiracy theory. That’s probably a bad way to learn what’s true and false. You can’t look for “alternative facts” that reaffirm your flimsy hunch, that’s called confirmation bias. You need to form a hypothesis with the facts you already have.
No matter what news source you use, try not to read their opinion section. If you like certain video news sources, try not to listen to their pundit panels argue. Opinions are just that.
Carl Sagan stated that “[a]rguments from authority carry little weight – authorities have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.” This is true of many things.
Reza Aslan is a great example of a pundit who repeatedly claims authority on subjects with credentials he doesn’t have. If someone with just math degrees tells you how to string a poem together, then take it with a grain of salt.
Should You Trust The General Public’s Opinion?
Many times, people will call a more-or-less neutral news source biased because it doesn’t align with what they already think they know to be true. So, someone who is a fan of Breitbart might consider USA Today a radical-left paper, even though USA Today is generally just left of center.
If we asked anyone to rate news other than their home team, they would zero their scale over the news sources they consume the most of and judge the others from there.
You’ll see polls where the general public is asked to rate how biased they think particular news sources are, and with that in mind, we can comfortably say that that info needs to be taken with a grain of salt, too.
Some Reliable News Sources
You’ll notice that not all the reviews agree. Here’s a chart to cross-reference the other bias checkers with.
The Christian Science Monitor:
Review here. This is probably one of the best because it’s a bunch of normal people citing different news sources and real-time correcting one other. Take a bunch of newspapers, combine them, have people argue over what’s correct, and voila. Link to the main page here.
A list of fact-checking websites can be found here.
Getting U.S. News From Foreign News Sources
All newspapers and people have their own agendas unless they’re controlled by some larger body, like a totalitarian government or the other end of a revenue stream. When they aren’t tethered to U.S. politics, they more fairly represent what’s going on. Many times, it’s because they don’t have a dog in the fight.
Honest Mistakes Vs. Big Booboos
Some news sources make errors—because they are so concerned about being the first to report on things—and they have to retract information they later discover to be inaccurate or false.
You can trust news sources more if they correct their mistakes. If you find that a news source has said something wrong, and hasn’t officially corrected it, then think twice before relying on that one.
Folks who want news but have limited data will like NPR’s text-only news.