Media Bias ~ how to spot fake news

------------------------------------------------- Revised 04/06/18
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Above, CNN.com uses two highly charged words, "impulsive" to describe
President Trump and "plodding" to describe Senate in one headline. It was
the lead story Thursday, June 29, 2017.

For subjective words and phrases, including the highly charged
words "impulsive" and "plodding," it would have been better for
the journalist to use quotes to lay the foundation for an
attribution explained in the story, or to rewrite the headline
altogether.

  • Impulsive: If the headline above were in quotes, then the
    reader could deduce someone had an opinion that
    President Trump is "impulsive" and not that he necessarily
    was impulsive. Using a subjective adjective without quotes
    becomes highly charged. Another person reasonably could
    argue that President Trump is not impulsive, but rather
    "quick witted," "nimble," or "astute."

  • Plodding: The word "plodding" is another highly charged
    adjective in that it has negative connotations of being
    "slow moving" or somehow "unexciting." Another person
    could reasonably argue the opposite ~ namely that the
    Senate is "steadfast" and "unwavering" in their resolve.

A better headline would have been, "President Trump urges
Senate to pass health care bill."

Here's why quotes are important...
Quotes provide an important attribution. In other words, quotes
ascribe a work or remark to a particular person. It can help
maintain a sense of neutrality, and this imparts trust at the
news source. Neutrality is a hallmark of the best news
organizations.

Below is an example from FoxNews.com, with quotation marks
used properly. The headline reads, "Bernie Sanders insists FBI
probe of wife 'pathetic,' but allegations serious."  The highly
charged word "pathetic" is in single quotes, meaning that
Foxnews.com is attributing the quote to Bernie Sanders.
Media Bias
Beware of media bias, learn how to spot "fake news"!

Choose your media wisely...
President Donald Trump coined the term "fake news" after a
barrage of information disseminated by the media in which he
perceived as media bias against him. The tides are turning and
he's beginning to see some vindication. Still, there has been
little in the way of story retractions, and defamation of character
lawsuits.

Journalism is supposed to be impartial and it's supposed to
report the who, what, when, where, why and how of current
events. When journalists inject adjectives into their headlines
and storylines, when they focus on narratives without
substantive backing details, and when they don't cite sources in
their articles, they risk the perception of bias or even a lawsuit.

While an editorialist is allowed commentary and opinion, a
journalist is supposed to stick to the facts and delineate. That's
not what's happening today. Here's how to sort through the
media and spot today's fake news...

How to spot "fake news"
"Fake News" is not only false or incorrect published information,
but it is writing presented to the public that violates some very
basic standards in journalism. The Associated Press Stylebook,
right, provides a journalist with rules on grammar, spelling,
punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, and word and numeral
usage. It also sets important guidelines on objectivity, and can
help a journalist guard against libel and copyright infringement.

Below are some tips for patriots to identify media bias,
propaganda, or "fake news" as President Trump likes to call it.

Here are five ways to spot "fake news":

#1: Beware of adjectives.
The Reuters handbook of journalism says to use adjectives
sparingly. Their guidance to journalists, "
Inject colour into copy
with strong verbs and facts first.  If you have more than two
adjectives before a noun, rewrite the sentence."

It doesn't appear that CNN.com understands the basic premise in
journalism of objectivity in use of two words in a headline on
Thursday, June 29, 2017:
The Associated Press Stylebook
Elements of Style
New York Times Manual of Style
#5: Watch for retractions.
Credible news agencies retract stories that they later discover are
untrue, and fire the people involved. Unfortunately, retractions
are rare as President Trump has made us all aware.

Instead of firing journalists, news agencies today just force the
offenders to resign and then only mildly apologize. That's what
happened
when CNN faced a $100M libel lawsuit. How did CNN
apologize? They told viewers that the botched Russia story "didn't
meet their standards."

A word about Libel Laws and Lawsuits...
There are libel laws to protect an individual when someone
publishes a false statement that is damaging to the person's
reputation. Journalists used to have higher standards and worried
more about written defamation. Today they seem to have a free
pass, and it's taking a toll on patriots.

So why haven't there been many lawsuits on all the fake news? It
all has to do with "malice aforethought," which in criminal law is a
way of saying that a false statement may be misleading, though
not malicious. The reporting must show reckless disregard of the
truth. Essentially the press gets a free pass for most of their
reporting pursuing a potentially false narrative. One could argue
that they are in pursuit of the truth, even if they are going down
the wrong path and find absolutely no evidence.

If a story doesn't inject reputational damage, then it's a "big
nothing burger" in terms of chance for a lawsuit.

#6: Watch for inconsistencies.
Do you trust your news source? Follow the facts and follow up!

If only 6.4 million people are enrolled in Obamacare then how
could 32 million people loose coverage if Obamacare is repealed?
The same news organization (and journalist) says the following,
how is this so?



When you follow the facts you realize the media has an agenda.
Fake news is there and you need to take it with a grain of salt.

Happy endings...
Think: it's not illegal yet! As a patriot, you can hit the media
where it counts: in their advertising wallet. Don't watch the media
biased television news channels and their ratings will go down.
It's that simple.

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Above, Foxnews.com correctly attributes the adjective "pathetic."  This was
the lead story Thursday, June 29, 2017.

#2: Be leery of allegations and accusations.
Journalists should always qualify allegatory statements to
attribute statements to specific individuals or groups:

  • Allege. Choice words from a journalist, such as "alleged," or  
    "allegedly," allow a journalist flexibility talk about claims
    that haven't been proven. It's a way of modifying the action.
    Instead of calling out someone as a "tax evader" a journalist
    can soften the finger pointing. "Alleged tax evader" is a bit
    better, but truth be told, a journalist should tell who is doing
    the alleging for more clarity.


#3: Look for attribution.
While every news story is different, attribution to the highest
possible source is the key to a news agency's trustworthiness. As
Reuters.com puts it, "
Solid sources are the foundation of a strong
legal defense. The best sources are reliable, agree to be
identified in the story, and well placed to know the information
they share with Reuters."

Journalists and their editors who choose to publish scandalous
articles with an unnamed source violate the most basic line of
integrity. The ethics of journalism gets put into question when
too many unnamed sources don't wish to have their names
attributed. Without attribution the information appears fabricated
for a specific agenda, and the information presented quickly
becomes an editorial, disguised as news.

Sourcing and credibility are both integral in unbiased journalism.
That's why it's a cardinal rule to get two or three sources before
airing or publishing information.

#4: Recognize propaganda and sensationalism.
Another area for patriots to be alert about is sensationalism and
propaganda. It's not just the adjectives a journalist chooses, but
the entire narrative portrayed. A story that has a shock value
aimed at increasing ratings or subscribers is a sensationalist story
and patriots should recognize the motivations are readership and
viewership.

Yesterday's propaganda is today's "fake news."
Fifty years ago fake news was called "propaganda." When an
organization spreads information or allegations with the objective
of injuring someone, it's propaganda plain and simple.

  • Shocking language. Sensationalist stories purposefully use
    shocking language to dance around the truth and grab
    readers attention. Forbes staffer Kelly Phillips Erb has a
    byline that reads, "I cover tax: paying tax is painful but
    reading about it shouldn't be." Turns out it was not only
    painful, but shocking when she wrote "Trump and kids named
    in $250 million tax evasion case." Here's the rub: they were
    not charged. They were not even the defendants! The truth is
    that they were material witnesses in a case involving a
    Russian-born businessman. A more accurate headline to the
    article below would have been, "Trump and kids named as
    material witnesses," but who would have read that? It was
    the start of the "witch hunt," that Trump alleges.
Article
Above, Forbes updated, but did not fully retract the story of Trump and kids
who were not charged in a tax evasion case, but were material witnesses to
the tax evasion case of a Russian businessman

  • No proof. Another form of sensationalism or propaganda, is
    when the media pushes on with a story that's not based on
    any evidence.

    When here is "no big giant proof," as John Bonifield, CNN
    Supervising Producer, was caught saying in the Project
    Veritas undercover video, there is only speculation. It's far
    too easy for a news agency to spread false statements or
    exaggerated claims  to bolster a cause simply for ratings.
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