5 Ways to Consume Media Critically

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Newsflash

5 Ways to Consume Media Critically

With so much fake news out there, how can you tell fact from fiction? Here’s Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s answer – and it’s a good one.

First of all, it’s important to understand that there’s a BIG difference between a fact and a story. The story (often pushed in the article headline) is frequently stretched, mischaracterised or dramatised to get readers to click. These stories may be based on facts but are told in a way that twists facts and people will take away the wrong information. Why do they do this? Because conflict and drama tend to generate more clicks, views and – ultimately – revenue.

But does this mean we stop reading the news? Not at all. We just need to start learning to consume media critically. Here are 5 tips on how to start:

1. Don’t rely on just one source – Refer to multiple sources (and perspectives) to get the whole story.

2. Every media outlet has their respective slants or biases – Reading other pieces of content form the same news outlet can help you recognise them – this will help you get past the story to the facts.

3. Identify the journalists whose work you trust and respect and follow them on social media – Many journalists post short, fact-based updates on social media. This will help you customise your social media feed and help them get the facts out without the bias of a media outlet.

4. Take a break – Many headlines are designed to trigger an emotional response. If you feel yourself getting angry, pause.

5. Think before you share – Sharing a story that isn’t true is how fake news spreads. So before you retweet or reblog an article, do a quick Google search on the topic to get the full story.