12 ways to be a vigilant news consumer

In a talk about Journalism and News Literacy*, Howard Schneider, who is the dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, shared some of his experience about the way we consume news today. I share this with you so we will begin this wonderful new 2014 with a more self aware reading and information exchange.

One of the biggest problems in the digitalized era we live in is information. There is too much information and very little screening of that information. Blogs, News reports online, TV, Facebook, Twiiter, we are flooded with information, reports and rumors that in the end of the day we are left with selected information which in many cases we pass it along.

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Obama’s co called Birth Cert. Kenya, Canada, US or Mars

First of all, most of us will forget the source within 72 hours. We will not be able to say where a certain information we have is originated, whether a blog, TV news, an Internet article, facebook etc. Actually, some will most likely confuse the source with a higher ranking one to give the information more credibility.

mires-prie-kompiuterioSecond, we are all experiencing what today in social psychology we call Confirmation Bias, or the Sleeper effect. Meaning we have an obvious Bias toward a piece of information that will confirm our preconceived notion about life, reality, moral, valor etc. There is an interesting example with a news report that was spread on the Internet as true about a guy (a certain New York proofreader George Turklebaum) that was found dead on his desk 5 days after his time of decease. Almost all people believe it because they actually believe it can happen in their work place (“where is this world going” etc.).

There are many more disturbing facts and examples about our daily habit as to how we consume information. Here are 12 ways to be a vigilant news consumer according to Schneider:

1 – Always know what news neighborhood you´re in.

2 – In the news neighborhood differentiate the news from opinions.

3 – Follow a story over time.

4 – Evaluate sources.

5 – Always ask: did the reporter actually verified the information or is relying on rumors?

6 – On the Internet, rank and popularity do not necessarily mean credibility.

7 – Choose multiple news brands.

8 – Be open to information that challenges your own biases and assumptions.

9 – Don´t judge the news media on the basis of one news outlet or story. Don´t judge one outlet on the basis of one mistake, look for patterns.

10 – Be an aggressive news consumer. It is hard work.

11 – In the digital age, we are all distributes of information.

12 – Make time for the news.

Also, a good point is to cross reference with multiple sources. This is essential to more accurate information. Cross references, like any historical event that want to be considered as closer to the truth, is where the biases of the reporter, editor and news source get diminished (of course not completely gone). Especially when it is from different sources that are from both side of political opinion, different languages, different countries etc. Personally, I have been reading newspapers from 4 different countries in the past 3 years and I have to say that the experience is sometime incredible seeing how news is distorted to fit the newspaper political opinion.

To a well informative and aware trispectivist this process will be much easier to do, for the news is simply the interaction between the individual All and the universal All. Thus, while recognizing this constant interaction, we, as the individuals, are aware that the information we receive is how we perceive the universal, and not necessarily a good mirror of what it is really is. The more we are sure in our “certainties” and truths, the less effective the interaction with the universal will be, leading to a more biased receptors from our part (if you happen to have Trispectivism at hand, I will refer you to the part about communication in page 235).

And lastly, for a useful tool to discard rumors and myth in the Internet, Schneider offers this website?

http://snopes.com/ – the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. Use the search box to locate your item of interest.

* Watch Schneider’s full conference – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv4YgX5udlM

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!

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And he was made to roam the earth… and grow!

The geographical journey that instigates and inspires the mental one will be the action that will carry us to distant and unknown regions of the intrinsic as well as the extrinsic world. A journey can be many things, but it is not a week’s vacation in a beach town, or a trip to a cosmopolitan city in a foreign country. A journey is always a trip of learning, differentiating itself from tourism (a short vacation) or traveling (a longer period of time).

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A journey has no time limit, but it involves diving into new cultures, into a unique path in an unfamiliar environment. A vacation, on the other hand, usually ends up with many “I’ve been there” photos and some nice stories to make friends and family jealous, while a journey consists of connecting to other cultures, learning about them, losing yourself to mother nature, whether alone or with a companion. The importance of the number of people who can join is crucial for the experience: one can never really contemplate nature or one’s surroundings when accompanied by a group of ten people. There will constantly be things to do and someone to talk to, and your attention will be more focused on the group itself than toward the new of the outside. In my personal opinion and experience, the solo journey is the most exhilarating and wholesome; followed by a journey of two friends, three if you really have to, and only after that comes a couple. Yes, two to three friends are better partners on a journey than your significant other, for as great as it is for couples to have these experiences, this bonding does not contribute the connection to the outside. In a couple’s journey, you do not change or evolve as a person but as a couple (a wonderful thing on its own).

Solo journeys of psychological and physical development are not rare in our world. The most commonplace, though, are found in literature, both fiction and biographies. In the Odyssey, for example, Homer’s Ulysses undergoes many tests, but the most important one, among the wars and quarrels with the gods, is the journey back to Ithaca. The journey is far from peaceful sailing along the Mediterranean shoreline—he faces hardships, death, and recognition in life. Many times he confronts the gods, good as well as evil, withstanding sacrifice and misery, through sorrow and, at times, joy and ecstasy. Many years pass before he can return to reign side by side with his dear wife.

What do you think would have happened if Ulysses had managed to get right back home after the war of Troy? It would not have been long until he would have found some other war to fight, or the next adventurous opportunity, always in a degenerating dissatisfaction. However, after the countless sights, fatigue, experiences, suffering, and death he survived, his perspective changed and he proved to himself that priorities change when they are viewed from a broader perspective.

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In the old world of the sage Greeks, with their idols and stories of heroism, there is a leitmotif—the long walk, the journey of many years. It is what every hero must undertake before being approved by the gods. Those years away from his confidence, far from the security of home, are the most important years of developing his character. Those are years in which the hero’s edification and his mode of action are shaped, and it is then when he becomes the person he is supposed to be, a savior and a hero of the gods. The weaker ones die on the way, but the survivors, the chosen ones, are strong—they are the ones who, with the right combination of strength and shrewdness, can overcome any obstacles and defeat the strongest of their enemy. Even Jesus, king of the Christians, is said to have traveled for many years before he started spreading the word. Moses had a revelation in the mountains before he could lead the children of Israel in the desert. The ancient Babylonian god Dagon disappeared at sea only to reappear years later in a hybrid form, half man, half fish, to lead his people to justice and greatness. Jacob fled his brother Esau and saw an angel descend a ladder from God to tell him the good news.

Dagon
Dagon

Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, learned from the many heroic stories of his predecessors; he went for years until that glorious moment when Allah called him to pass down to him the sacred word and distribute it among the lost, heterogeneous, scattered tribes throughout the Arab territory. He did his job so effectively that about two hundred years later the Muslims had become the most powerful union in that part of the world. Buddha is said to have journeyed for long years until he reached enlightenment and nirvana. Whether the Law of Moses or the New Testament, Islam, Buddhism, or other religions and beliefs (monotheistic, polytheistic, or animistic), almost every story of spiritual discovery unravels and begins with the story of the hero’s journey. In it, while facing the unknown, you need to re-examine your abilities every day as another reality, other problems that require new and creative solutions come about. You will spend many hours with yourself in constant introspection, sometimes conscious of the struggle inside and other times the enlightenment will arrive only in retrospect. A journey is one of the strongest examinations of the third division in trispectivism, the intercommunication, the interaction you, as an individual All, have to acknowledge in the face of the world, the universal All. Strengthening one aspect in the three divisions (whether the awareness of the individual, widening the perspectives of the universal, or simply improving the interaction) is also empowering and reinforces the other two.

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[This post is taken from Trispectivism, the section titled “Journeys” p. 183]