Strong journalism is essential to society

Take measures to make sure you can trust the news

Ben Wieland and Sophia Armendariz

American journalism is in danger, at least the way we know it. Public trust in the media is plummeting: according to Axios, 72 percent of Americans believe that major news sources intentionally report fake news. Distrust in media has been an issue for years that, during the 2016 election, President Trump directed even more attention to by regularly referring to the media as the “enemy of the people.”

With trust in media declining, it’s important that we all take steps to support reliable news and good journalism. Small actions like checking source reliability, paying for quality news, reading longform journalism and supporting local news outlets can help us restore trust in our villainized fourth estate.

The first step we must take to regain trust in our media is make sure that our sources are worth trusting. Since the advent of social media, misleading and even sometimes entirely false headlines have swarmed the internet. Thankfully, there are ways to make sure the stories you’re reading are trustworthy and unbiased. Websites like Snopes and Politifact allow you to check if stories are true or false, and organizations like Media Bias Fact Check inform you about what angle a story is written from. Getting your news from multiple sources also allows you to see different sides of the same story.

If you’re fed up with clickbaity journalism altogether, a more drastic step to find reliable news is paying to subscribe to news services. Subscription-based news sources don’t publish clickbait articles because they don’t have to: their revenue comes from how many subscribers want to read their content, not how many people click on their article. Because of this, subscription-based news services are often far more reliable and accurate than their free counterparts.

Paying for your news is cheaper and easier in the digital age; purchasing online news subscriptions grants access to far more content than is available in a print newspaper while also being cheaper than print news. Paying for your news ensures that you get the highest-quality content at a relatively insignificant price, usually less than $3 a month.

Similarly, longer stories tend to be more reliable than shorter ones. If you’re stuck reading a non-subscription-based news source, try to find the longest articles you can. They’ll typically offer multiple angles on a story and report all of the facts involved; shorter news stories tend to only report a few facts and present an incomplete picture of the situation.

Lastly, and most importantly, make sure to support your local news sources. Our local newspaper, the Shawnee Dispatch, shut down for good in November 2018 due to a decline in readers and ad revenue. Even if you’re distrustful of national media, local media sources are trying to keep you updated on what’s going on in your community. They most likely aren’t pushing an agenda, they’re just keeping you more informed. Here at Mill Valley News, we take our job to keep you informed seriously, especially considering there are very few professional journalists covering our area.

In today’s climate, it can be easy to distrust the news, especially if you don’t like the story being reported. However, fact-checking, using subscription news sources, reading longer stories and supporting local media can help us all regain trust in American journalism.


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