How to Read the News?

I know this sounds crazy. I know it sounds almost like common sense.

Read the NEWS

It’s like telling somebody how to breathe air or how to open your eyes. Well, when it comes to the internet, you can’t take anything for granted. And least of which is the news.

You have to understand that there is a lot of information out there that try to pass itself off as news that is nothing but the complete and total opposite. In fact, the Russian government is currently getting grilled about all sorts of shenanigans it pulled in the recent elections in the United States.

This is not a small matter. In fact, in the Philippines, there is a tremendous amount of social media drama over the impact of fake news.

Make no mistake about it, the reason why there is such concern over fake news is because it works. People don’t have the time to analyze news items thoroughly. Instead, when people get a very controversial-seeming headline in their Facebook timeline, their first reaction is actually to click the “share” button.

They don’t click through the link, they don’t slice and dice the information, they definitely do not relate the information to what they already know. In other words, they don’t put an objective anchor or frame of reference to the news. They just let their emotions get the better of them and this leads to problems over and over again.

First of all, it makes you look like a fool. For example, there was fake news regarding some sort of disaster that happened and it turns out that things did not play out as the title promises. Well, who do you think would look like a fool? Who do you think would look he or she overreacted? That would be you because you clicked the “share” button.

The second disaster that happens here is that you get trained to think a certain way. So when you click the link and you read the news item and you see another headline again that basically parrots the old headline, when you see this happen again and again and again, you start suspecting that this is true. In fact, in many cases, you only need to see it for a relatively few times for you to “know” that it’s true. This is how you manufacture a vast global army of zombies.

You have to understand that the Nazi propagandist Goebbels was on to something when he told a lie that was repeated over and over again in a very big way. Eventually, it gets accepted as the truth.

And we’re talking about intelligent people here. We’re talking about people who have reasons to think otherwise. These are not gullible people. These are not people who are mentally challenged. These are people like you who are intelligent, who make rational decisions, but get fooled again and again.

And the fooling really is subliminal. Because when you see something over and over again, automatically you start assuming that it’s true.

So how do you push back? How do you learn to read the news the right way? Here are some tips.

First, demand proof. In other words, click the link and then look to see if the news being reported is actually backed up by the details of the news. This is proof.

Now, this is not much proof because you’re actually looking within the content itself to support itself, but let me tell you, a lot of people cranking out fake news are lazy and incompetent. They really are. So just by you reading the content and seeing the full context of the material, you can see that it doesn’t support each other. There’s a disconnect somewhere and it’s obviously fake.

Next, you should look at the source. If the only place you can find this “news” is from one source, chances are, it’s bunk. So if you can corroborate it with something from the New York Times, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, or any other “legitimate” news outlet, then you’re good to go.

Third, it uses sensationalistic headlines. When you read the headlines and you can’t help but be emotionally engaged, take a deep breath, take a step back, and open your eyes. Chances are, you’re being taken for a ride. That headline was written to get a rise out of you. There are really no two ways about it.

These people know what they’re doing. They’re trying to get you to click and then when you see another similar title, you click again, and on and on it goes. That’s how they make their money.

So pay attention to these three tips and you would be surprised as to how much more effective you would be in reading the news. As the old saying goes, common sense, as far as the internet goes, is not all that common. Consider yourself warned against fake news.