ALL NEWS

Writer discusses separating fact from fiction in today’s news

Jan 26, 2022, 3:40 PM

fact from fiction...

Fake news, otherwise known as stories based on false information, have the potential to influence politics, researchers say. (Image credit: Getty images)

(Image credit: Getty images)

We are bombarded by information. It comes from thousands of news sources. How does a reader separate fact from fiction? On a recent episode of Inside Sources on KSL NewsRadio, a writer discussed her research into identifying accurate news and trustworthy sources, as well as recognizing the biases you bring along.

 

In her new piece for Y Magazine, “DisInfoMania: In the battle over facts and fakes, insights and hot takes, how can you become a savvier consumer of information?” freelance writer Melody Warnick spoke with news media experts to come up with a list of do’s and don’ts to help readers successfully navigate the news media landscape.

Warnick outlined the three strategies for thinking critically about media information and sources.

Read laterally

“There was a 2018 study out of Stanford that found that most people when they go to a website, they read vertically. Meaning, they stay on the page, they go up and down the page,” Warnick said.

But lateral reading, she said, helps the reader determine an author’s credibility, intent, and biases. It involves searching for articles on the same topic by other writers (to compare their coverage) and for other articles by the author you’re checking. That’s what professional fact-checkers do, according to the New Literacy Project.

“[Fact-checkers] go to Wikipedia or other organizations, even Googling turned out to be valuable. You would get other outside perspectives on whether this is a website [or] a new site that you can actually trust,” said Warnick.

Go upstream

Warnick said reading upstream means getting off the page you are reading and clicking on the article’s links. 

“When we go upstream, that means you’re actually going to click on the links and see where they take you. And maybe you’re going to Google some of the experts that are quoted and see whether these people are reliable,” she said.

Most of what you read on the web is not original content. It is copied from another source most of the time. Check the original source and compare it to what lies downstream.

Acknowledge your bias

“Studies have shown that we’re twice as likely to gravitate toward information that supports what we already believe,” Warnick said.

Readers don’t need to abandon their values and beliefs.  But they should be aware of them while they read.

Warnick referred to a study in which students were asked to read an article about birth control for teens, which included scientific research from obstetricians and gynecologists.

“People were more likely than they thought to just respond in an emotional way based on their own biases. Such as: ‘I don’t support birth control for teenagers, therefore, this whole article is bad,'” she said.

con·fir·ma·tion bi·as
  1. the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.

People may read a headline or article they agree with to confirm that what they read must be true (confirmation bias) thus validating their beliefs or values on the subject.

Test your theory

Before Einstein came up with his general theory of relativity, the common assumption was that the universe was static — neither expanding nor contracting. Einstein’s equations allowed for a dynamic universe. But his audience rejected his idea.

Later, Edwin Hubble would show that the universe is expanding.

Related: Inside Sources: Talking about confirmation bias and social-media manipulation

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

The New Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Miller Family Campus, in Lehi is dedicated at ...

Heather Peterson

One third of Utah hospitals not in compliance with hospital price transparency law

Hospitals have been required to post a list of the prices they charge for services since January 1, 2021.

3 hours ago

Noah Pirkle snowshoes by the Mill B trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024....

Carter Williams

Comparing Utah’s snowpack this winter with the rest of the West

Utah's mountains gained 12.9 inches of snow water equivalent, otherwise known as snowpack, between the season start on Dec. 1 to its end on Thursday

4 hours ago

Cookie Monster has taken to X to express his frustration over shrinking products, aka: "shrinkflati...

Bryan Mena

Even Cookie Monster is complaining about the US economy

“Me hate shrinkflation! Me cookies are getting smaller,” Cookie Monster posted on X. “Guess me going to have to eat double da cookies!”

4 hours ago

Macy Schmidt, the founder of The Sinfonietta, conducts the group....

Mariah Maynes

Barbie The Movie: In Concert features all-women orchestra, coming to Utah

"Barbie the Movie: In Concert" features an all women orchestra. And the film featured an all-women team of production and tech professionals.

5 hours ago

Thousands of pounds of Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings have been recalled due to possible conta...

Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Trader Joe’s chicken soup dumplings recalled for possible contamination

The manufacturer, CJ Foods Manufacturing Beaumont Corporation, said customers found hard plastic in the dumplings. 

5 hours ago

tumbleweed...

Becky Bruce

South Jordan still cleaning up after tumbleweed take over

The invasive and non-native tumbleweeds blew into South Jordan on Saturday, blocking streets, driveways and even entire homes. 

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Writer discusses separating fact from fiction in today’s news