Handle misleading reports – Go to the source

How many times have you read disturbing news and found yourself still upset during the next several days?

Part of this is due to mass media’s sensationalizing of events with the added twist of media bias. The line between editorial comment and straight news reporting has become so blurred that it is almost impossible to get a straight story.

If you have been a faithful watcher of network news for very long, you may not even be aware that your news is being sliced, diced and seasoned to suit someone’s hidden agenda.

A news report sympathetically positions the leader of Hamas as a kindly old half-blind cripple. You have no way to judge until you Google to find what Sheikh Yassin has actually said and done.

Similarly, Al-Jazeera reports of “U.S. atrocities and war crimes” in Fallujah are passed on as straight news. This is misleading to say the least. You have to look at several news sources as well as the Iraqi blogs before a coherent picture emerges.

Another example, the Democratic presidential campaign team is attacked for lack of diversity, having no one of color in the innermost circle of ten people. Is this fact, or a political ploy? You can find out by going on the internet and doing a bit of research.

If a news item is sensational, controversial, and spectacularly scandalous, it will be passed on by all major media outlets with little fact checking. So, what can you do about this? You can go to the source.

With the current state of the internet, you can verify if an alarming story is corroborated by any other news sources. You can also verify if someone has taken a position and then denied having it. Knowing the truth will ease your mind about things, as the facts are almost never as bad as the news would have you believe.

After a a number of searches, you should be able to evaluate the relative truthfulness of news sources such as Al-Jazeera and the New York Times versus weblogs like Instapundit, and Iraq the Model. You should also be able to judge between commentators like Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter.

The next time you feel anger, disgust or alarm at the latest news, go to the internet and do a little research on your own. You will be surprised how this can change your view of events. You will also be contributing to the sanity of your environment. Knowing the truth can do that. It’s also conducive to a healthier state of mind.

De-stress yourself. Do the research and be sure.

UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot to mention the most important one of all: verifying the content of speeches.

When you see a news report apparently quoting a public figure and claiming that the person was evasive or lied, read the original transcript of the event and see for yourself.

You may find to your amazement that the only person who lied was the reporter. The reporter was sent in to do a hatchet job and did.

Transcripts of most public speeches are available on the internet now. Their content differs greatly from what is generally reported. Some notable examples are the proceedings of the 9/11 commission.

Another Update: Ironbear, at Who Tends the Fires, has written a thought-provoking analysis of the reasoning behind the widely differing worldviews that are presented by the media. Check out his post, Pay no attention to the meme beyond the curtain…

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