Monday, April 03, 2017

Fake News tips

When I was in grammar school, I got the Weekly Reader. It was a kid’s newspaper that we received at school. I loved the Weekly Reader because the editor chocked it full of facts. There were articles about space, history, geography, and other interesting facts. It was news I could use.
My grandmother Willie Watson also got weekly newspapers. Her papers were the National Inquirer and Weekly World News. A headline that stuck with me through the years was, “Legless Boy summersaults two miles to save dad.” Even though she read it religiously, she knew it was fake news.
It’s part of human nature to look for horrific news. Misfortune and the societal underbelly draw the reader’s attention. Bad news sells. A newspaper or magazine can have headlines for 10 inspirational
stories on the front page with one scandal. Most of us will read about the scandal first.
You can also observe this behavior in drivers when they pass a bad wreck on the highway. Drivers instinctively slow down — not to be safe, but to have a look at the carnage.
These days it’s hard to get on Facebook without seeing questionable news. When you scan the comments, you see that everyone’s undies are in a wad.
I saw a news article that accused Matt Lauer and the Today’s Show of deleting the word Christ from an interview with the widow of a Navy Seal. Christians were appalled and rightly so, had the story been true. But it wasn’t. It was fake news, and it spread like wildfire on Facebook. Following each share were threads of comments from outraged readers.
Trying to let someone know that what they are posting is untrue is risky. I’ve had people turn on me and say that they didn’t care whether it was true or not. Fake news and alternative facts reached a new level since the presidential election. I’ve seen fake news coming from both camps.
Back when Walter Cronkite was on CBS Evening News, there was no question about a story being true. If Walter said it, you could take it to the bank. That’s not the case these days. Both conservatives and liberals have news sources they trust. I usually like to read news from the British Broadcasting Corporation. I’ve found them to cover stories fairly. I don’t always like what they are saying but I’ve found they are a reliable source for news.
I developed a method to help me navigate Facebook and online news.
Rick’s Rules
• If a news item comes across my Facebook timeline and it galls me...I mean pushes ALL my buttons, there is a better than even chance it's a lie.
• If I see one of these stories and want to share my outrage with my friends, I ALWAYS look on a fact checker site to see if it's true or false. There are several sites where I can verify stories.
• If it's FALSE I don't share it no matter how badly I want it to. Just because a story fits with my point of view, it doesn't make it true.


  1. Yep, i had a friend forward me the story of Mr. Rogers. Since I am a WWII history fan, I checked and sure enough, it was false. My on even told me it was a cyber myth. I depated whether to telll my friend he was forwarding 'fake news', finally I did tell him. He responded with a THANKS. I did feel better.

    Yep I was not a fan of President Obama, but I hated lies and fake news.
    OI remember once betting something from a man I had respected, it was "obviously wrong", he said, I don't know if it is true or not BUT I BELIEVE IT. He dropped a few points in my mind.
    Good one my friend and that ain't fake news. ;-)

  2. I don't play FB, but do check my news when I can. If it sounds too good to be believable it probably isn't is true of far too many things in far too many arenas at the moment.

  3. Anymore the news always seems to add a bit of fiction along with the truth just to make it a headliner. Reading below the headlines, things can be extremely different. It is a good practice to check out the facts, but many of us don't take the time.

  4. To get fake news on April Fool's Day is one thing but to get fake news or altered news is just frustrating. Fake news or altered news has been going on for years but it had taken a life of it's own recently. I no longer believe all what I hear or read especially when politic is concerned.
    Hugs, Julia

  5. It was better when there weren't stations devoted exclusively to news. With so much time to fill 24/7 the news has become talking heads pushing political agendas rather than hard verifiable news.

  6. Oh my gosh, Rick. I remember the Weekly Reader, too, and always loved it. Maybe that was the seed planted that resulted in my becoming a newspaper reporter later in life. Writing has always been a part of me and still is, after all these decades. Thanks for the memories. Susan

  7. Yes, yes, yes! I too like BBC News. I guess because they have little skin in the game they can be free to present facts. I also read other news outlets and watch "news" outlets with varying opinions. Your rules are good ones. As far as Weekly Reader it was my favorite part of school. I remember reading about driverless cars. They resembled the AMC cars that were popular in the 70' or 80's.

  8. I wrote a post a while back about spotting fake news stories. I get sick of the emails lies that people pass around without making any effort to ascertain the truth. I also remember the Weekly Reader especially well because when I was in the sixth grade, it had an article that said "I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends" by The Beatles was about drugs. It never would have occurred to me. They probably should have kept their mouths shut.


  9. I loved the weekly reader!
    I hate fake news too. Facebook is rediculous. It has turned into grumpbook.
    I also hate those "catch titles" that normally lead to fake stories.
    Oh and I just found you on facebook, soo......

  10. Yup, we used to call that 'yellow journalism.' I'm afraid (that) during the election, I passed on more than one snippet of FAKE news. She was(is) irritating, but my high school BF always invited readers to 'check the source.'

  11. Anonymous9:54 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Anonymous3:10 PM

    All I can say about the above comment is "WHAT?"!!

  13. One of my good, Christian cousins forwarded a fake or at least grossly exaggerated email to me once about several Muslims creating a disturbance aboard an American (country, not airline) plane. I, too, fact-checked it, and found that while it had a small amount of truth to it, it was blown way out of proportion. But what galled me, and I told my cousin this, was her note to those to whom she was forwarding this: "I don't know whether this is true or not," she wrote, "but if it is, it's awful." I couldn't believe it! I told her that as Christians we are purveyors of the truth, not lies and half-truths. Go figure.


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