News

Monitoring News Bias

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You want to know the “truth”, right?  As such, surely you spread your reading across news sources of varying political perspectives, right?  One can only hope your quest for truth is, indeed a quest and not self-administered salve to soothe intra-psychic fears about your future and the future well-being of those you hold dear.  “Truth” is larger than that.

Should you venture into the wild, attempting to get differing perspectives on current events, how can you know if what you are reading is valid?  If understanding the political leaning of any given site is important to you, check out Media Bias / Fact Check.  (MBFC), a news outlet evaluation site which describes itself as the following:

  • Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices.
  • MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.
  • Funding for MBFC News comes from site advertising, individual donors, and the pockets of our bias checkers.
  • MBFC News follows a strict methodology for determining the biases of sources. Dave Van Zandt is the primary editor for sources. He is assisted by a collective of volunteers who assist in research for many sources listed on these pages.
  • MBFC News also provides occasional fact checks, original articles on media bias and breaking/important news stories, especially as it relates to USA politics.

Just type in the name of any site you are interested in and see what MBFC has to say about it.  Try searching for sites you know.  Try “The Guardian”, “Reuters” or “Breitbart”.  You can also get a list of many outlets that MBFC classifies together – Right-Bias, Pro-Science, Left-Center-Bias, etc. (nine categories in all, including “Conspiracy-Pseudoscience”).   Of particular interest is the category which MBFC considered the Least Biased.  You will notice that these MBFC lists are quite long as they included media outlet from all over the world (ever considered getting your news from the Bangkok Post?).

One of the advantages of MBFC is its employment of differing evaluation criteria during its daily analysis of various news outlets.  For instance, MBFC analyses a site’s relative factual reporting as one criterion.  This criterion focuses on whether the information presented by the site is verifiable.  However, a different criterion considers whether a site presents “biased” stories, which is not the same as accusing the site of “false” reporting. A site might present actual facts, but presents those facts couched in a slanted presentation, presumably with the attempt to sway the interpretation and opinion of readers of those facts.  Such bias can be seen in the use of loaded words, the choice of which stories to tell, what details to reveal and which to omit, for instance, all of which skew the whole truth of the situation.  Comparing even these criteria–and there are others–can be helpful for identifying the nature of the proposed “truth” being presented.  Perhaps MBFC’s greatest value is that the site presents many listings which provide direct links to outlets you might not have heard of (and might find quite informative).

The Media Bias / Fact Check site could be quite useful for anyone, regardless of socio-political orientation.  Give it a look.  You might learn something.

 

Expand your horizon and your mind! 
Read something you do NOT believe and see what happens!


DISCLAIMER: The seekingGood blog does not necessarily endorse the MBFC site except as a possible help in the evaluation of media sources.  As always, do your own research and think for yourself.

A Win for Investigative Journalism

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In a previous post, seekingGood highlighted the need for more investigative journalism.  ProPublica has voiced a similar concern. As the first online site to receive the Pulitzer Prize— ProPublica is known for the depth and thoroughness of its stories. However, the articles posted by ProPublic can be challenging for the average reader.  Enter Vox.  As reported by ProPublica, Vox, a news and opinion website noted for its explanatory journalism, has teamed up with ProPublica to provide visual access to their material.  This might help clarify the message of more complicate stories.  Sharing resources and research, the ProPublica-Vox collaboration can only be a good thing for investigative journalism and, ultimately, for us.

A New Form of Journalism?


[DISCLAIMER] Always seeking “truth” and the means to reliably find it, we are pushing the follow-up to “Locally Green” (scheduled for this week), to a later date.  Instead, check out this interesting development in the field of news reporting. Obviously, this early in the process, we cannot endorse this organization, but it is, at least worth a look.

With the power of online transparency, together we can beat fake news.
~Jimmy Wales

Introducing Wikitribune

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Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) has just this week initiated a new journalism platform called “Wikitribune”.  Like Wikipedia, “Wikitribune is a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together. We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved.”

Seeking to “fix” the news, Wikitribune is attempting to bring control of the dissemination of factual information back to the community.  Mr. Wales suggests that “social media, where most people get their news these days, is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our bias.”  This trend “fundamentally breaks the news”.  Wikitribune is being launched to help correct this problem.

The principles are simple.

Articles must be fact based with named sources:  “Supporting Wikitribune means ensuring that journalists only write articles based on facts that they can verify…that you can see their sources. “

Ad-free content is free for all readers:  Wikitribune will present no pay walls, giving all people open access to all content.  Furthermore, the site will be completely ad-free, permitting no corporate influence to shape the nature of the information presented.

The community and hired journalists are equal… “Articles are authored, fact-checked, wikitribune community.PNGand verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters.”

…with full financial transparency:  Promising no compromise regarding financial influence, Wikitribune has plans to operate and publish its financials regularly.  The staff journalists will be paid by subscription revenue—which is to say, by us.

This noble endeavor has only just begun. However, as  Fortune magazine points out, this is not the first time such an idea has been proposed.  These previous efforts did not meet with much success.   Some critics question the possible success of Wikitribune.  And yet, Jimmy Wales faced similar criticism during the launch of Wikipedia.  We can see how that turned out.

Wikitribune is a good idea that needs our support.  If you are one to jump feet first into the possible, donate now.  If you are more of a wait-n-seer, take a look at the site, do some research about the project, and consider subscribing once they have reached their startup goals. Most of all, once Wikitribune is up and running, you might want to use the site as one of your news gathering tools.


Background articles:


For more information, contact: info@wikitribune.com

Shhh…

… something is rotten in the state of America!

 One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution;
one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

~ George Orwell, 1984

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The truth is hard to come by.  These days, truth about current events, the state of the U.S. government and its various controversial machinations have become particularly difficult to obtain.  Throughout U.S. history the idea of a “free press” has been the corner stone of an informed public.  If we do not gain information—”truth”—through the news media, how can we ever know what is actually going on around us?

A Call for More Investigative Journalism

Traditionally, White House news briefings have provided news agencies—which is to say, us—with direct access to the President.  February 2017 exclusions of major news outlets from such a briefing as well as alleged false statements from White House press secretary Sean Spicer have caused some to wonder if investigative reporting might be the only viable means of obtaining news related to actions of the U.S. government.  A specific appeal was voiced in a recent article that appeared in truthdig.

sean-spicer(White House press secretary Sean Spicer)

The ever widening divide between the executive branch of the U.S. government and the news media has become a major problem.  Previous decades found journalists bridging this gap when the need arose.  Yet now it appears something is broken in American journalism. For fiscal reasons, many major news outlets (particularly print media) have largely curtailed the practice of news-worthy investigations that manage to bare what some might attempt to conceal. Yet given the state of media relations in the U.S., a “receptive” approach to news gathering may no longer serve the goal of maintaining an informed public.  An era of “alternative facts”  seems to cry out for a return to more vigorous, independently probative journalism despite economic constraints.

(more…)

A “Deep State” Coup?

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Some supporters of the current administration have accused the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a deep state coup against the President. Meanwhile, some critics of this “Loser President” open embrace such activity.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept explains what the deep state is and critiques the idea and implications of a deep state coup, warning that such a development signals the end of democracy.

Defunding the EPA

Have you chosen a political issue on which you have decided to focus?  There is plenty to do.  Consider this.

The new presidential administration plans to cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget by $800 million.  Ken Kimmel, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists has stated that “the inevitable consequence of budget cuts of that magnitude would be a reversal of about the last 50 years of improvements in air quality, improvements in water quality and greater safety from chemicals that cause disease in people”.  Read the full story.

smoggy-washington-bridge
The George Washington Bridge in heavy smog, photographed during the early 1970s before many of today’s clean air protections were put in place. (Photo from the US National Archives/Flickr).

Here are more climate change stories.