How do you know?

Please take a moment to consider the following:

From where do you get your news?
Do you only go to trusted sources?
Have you taken time to vet their accuracy?
Have they?
Do you go to the same sources every day or do you rotate through an assortment?
What is their political alignment?
Who is their parent company?
What other enterprises are owned by their parent company?
Who paid for the research?
Who conducted the research?

My main source for news is NBC. Locally and nationally – on TV anyway. I am their ideal creature of habit. If I see a promo of better content on another network I will set the DVR. Even online, I hit nbcnews.com for my national news. I do stray to wral.com for my local information. Their traffic coverage is much better.

Times, they are a changin’. For me anyway and apparently, I’m late to this party.

Recently, at the encouragement of a former professor, I have gotten much more political in my use of Facebook. Over the past several months I have likeda multitude of news organizations, periodicals, political groups, citizen groups and bloggers of many genres. Add to this the posts and likes of my friends, several of whom are equally political in their own particular way.

My feed is jam packed with information.

The original source of most of this information is a complete mystery.

There is a definite slant to most of my “sources of information”. After all, I typically only like organizations that further more left-leaning causes. My phone would disintegrate if I were to (gasp) show support for a conservative cause. I’m a social worker. It can’t be helped.

I have tried to be responsible in the information I share with others. I try to stick to official seeming organizations. The National Women’s’ Law Center sounds totally legit, right? Surely they fact-check; the word “law” is in their name for crying out loud. The problem is that I don’t know. Many of their info-graphic posts do cite original research, some of those sources I do recognize as academic or in some way legitimate.

One of the organizations I have liked on Facebook is Media Matters for America. Their self-stated mission is to “comprehensively monitory, analyze and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” Honorable, should be above-board given their 501(c)(3) status; but there is guaranteed to be a slant to their message. However much I support the majority of liberal politicians and organizations, realistically, there is no chance that all of their publicized messages are accurate. I haven’t yet found the conservative counterpoint to Media Matters for America. I’m sure there is one, or a dozen.

Then end message is this. Question your information. Right now there are even odds of finding a medical article about the pros and cons of coconut oil pulling on any number of websites, including those of serious news (Chicago Sun-Times), fashion (Glamour), and lifestyle (New York Post). Does breadth of coverage prove it is a real, more specifically, healthy, thing? Apply the same skepticism to everything you read and hear. It’s inconvenient, but I’m trying.

Cultivate your trusted sources online, in print and on television. More importantly, review your choices routinely. All it takes is pressure from an unnamed interest to cause a new slant to the content they provide the public. We are right to want to know about our world. We are right to seek the whole story. We are right to accept nothing less.

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