Valuable Tips for Developing a Critical Eye Against Fake News

Valuable Tips for Developing a Critical Eye Against Fake News

The latest Reuters findings are promising for the media sector: People’s overall trust in the news has grown by six percent in 2021 (Digital Report, 2021). However, there exists an evident gap between the trust in classic news media and the trust in news on social media. The mix of truthful and false information as well as the uncontrolled spread of content, makes social media a less reliable source of information compared to traditional news.

Unfortunately, traditional news media, too, isn’t immune to disseminating false information sometimes, experts say. There are ways in which false information can pass through a journalists’ gatekeeping role – intendedly or not. From big news titles reporting stories from satirical news websites to clickbait-motivated coverage or due to the bias of news organizations, false information can also be spread on TV or radio.

Media consumers need to keep this in mind. Especially for businesses monitoring the news as part of their communication strategy, being aware of this threat and verifying any content before using it for their marketing purposes is essential to avoid falling into the trap of fakes.

For PR professionals, being a victim of fake news might lead to harmful consequences – for themselves, their career and last but not least for their business. Also, customers understandably tend to lose trust in a company/brand if they feel misinformed.

Spotting fake news and making sure not to base decisions on them is, therefore, important for PR and marketing employees who track news media. However, it is also difficult and time-consuming. Below, we have summarized some tips to help you develop a critical eye against fake news:

  • Don’t only stick to the headline. Headlines are too short, lack contextual information and tend to exaggerate to catch the reader’s attention. Further reading, watching, or listening to the content will help you understand the truthfulness of the information before believing the news or even sharing it.
  • Double-check information from other media outlets. Have you spotted some extraordinary information on television? Does something seem strange? Then better observe or research if the same information has been mentioned by other TV and radio stations as well. If the information has been repeated, then chances that the information is verified and trustworthy increase.
  • Attention to the style of the content. Fakes are usually worded more emotional compared to legitimate information. They often lack important facts, such as names of sources, and include personal opinions and moral views. Not to forget that opinion columns and editorial content in legitimate news media can also be wrongly interpreted as facts if we are not aware of the type of content we are consuming – there is a difference between news built with facts and opinion columns, for example, containing the personal view of a columnist.
  • Examine the source of the information. The author’s name or the news media publishing the information can already give us some clue regarding the trustworthiness of the information. This is particularly helpful with articles on digital news sites.

We know that PR professionals often work against the clock. However, integrating these measures is the safest way to go.

If they happen to spot fake news attached to their business or a topic which is relevant to them, most media experts agree on two steps to debunk the false information. Firstly, do not repeat the false information, even when pointing out the truth. The main false argument could still stick to peoples’ mind and cause confusion regarding the correct information. Secondly, provide evidence and facts supporting the arguments made in your content. That will help if people are still insecure about the reliability of your version of the story.

Media monitoring solutions are an ally in detecting fake news that are spreading and may mislead clients or partners. eMedia Monitor offers its users the possibility to react effectively and avoid a harmful situation by automatically monitoring more than 3.400 TV and radio channels worldwide.

If you are interested in learning more about eMM’s Pegasus online platform, available channels, regions and how to track the news, leave us a message.

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