In the digital age, we get our news from more outlets than ever before. This also means it can be harder to know what news sources to trust. We know most people do not have the time to do a deep dive into news literacy, so we asked our journalists for their best tips on consuming news responsibly.
While you’re browsing our hot tips, please consider signing up for the NonDoc newsletter. It comes out every Thursday, will keep you informed on what’s happening locally, won’t bog you down with ads and opinions, and it’s easy to unsubscribe if you happen to change your mind. But, we think you’ll find it an important step in your news consumption.
Begin with a cursory inspection
Tres Savage: Check the date, byline and sources.
These three aspects will help you decide if an article is relevant and reliable. Articles often become popular in the middle of an ongoing situation. The follow-up does not always get the same traction. Check the date to know if the story is up-to-date.
The article byline should be for an actual person. On NonDoc, all bylines link to the author’s bio, so you know who is telling the story. When it comes to sources, three human sources is the traditional ethical minimum for articles. Be careful of anonymous sources as well. Sometimes anonymity is necessary to protect a source, but named sources are best.
Megan Prather: Be aware of the content you are reading.
Today, it can be difficult to know if the information you are getting is news or opinion. Opinion pieces are valuable to introduce new perspectives. However, informing yourself straight from the news source is important. Many news sites tag articles with “opinion” or “commentary,” but some are not so straightforward. If you are not sure, check for first-person statements and personal anecdotes. You will notice on NonDoc that opinion pieces are labeled as “commentary” in a bright yellow bar below the byline but above the featured photo. But the need to distinguish between news and commentary is a good reminder to click the article and read past its headline to understand the story being told.
Diversify your news consumption
Matt Patterson: Find more than one news source.
It’s pretty easy to lock in on CNN or the New York Times every day, especially with many online publications moving to paywalls. Most people don’t want to spend $100 a month on a slew of website subscriptions.
In most cases, every new organization will take a different angle. Diversity in news sources provides a more vivid picture of whatever the big story of the moment may be. Reading news stations local to a story is helpful for diversifying your news without breaking the bank.
Andrea DenHoed: Read/watch foreign media.
Reading news from the city and country it happened in helps us better understand the situation. Not only is this helpful for staying up to date on world news, but it can also offer perspective on events in America.
American media tell stories through a perspective that most of us are familiar with. When we read how our stories are being told in other countries, we can see the differences in culture between the U.S. and others.
Archiebald Browne: Subscribe to newsletters.
Newsletters are a great way to get information on what a publication views as the most important stories you should read. Newsletters deliver the top headlines to your email inbox to help save time in your day.
NonDoc has a Thursday newsletter, and if you don’t already subscribe, you can start now. We pack it with our top articles to help you stay informed. Our promise to you is that we will follow our own advice and bring you factual, fair, ethical and timely information.