Mass media is all around us in different forms, yet how much of it can we trust is actually give us reliable information? The focus of this essay is on how to obtain trustworthy and reliable sources of news from mass media, including the internet and TV. The vast scope of verification on the internet is why I have chosen it as my preferred media source.
Research in 2014, revealed that: “Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report “the news fully, accurately, and fairly” has returned to its previous all-time low of 40% “(Gallup, 2014). Also, with the recent enlargement of media information outlets such as Facebook and other media sites, it could be said that US citizens are becoming weary with this “mainstream” voice, that is not fully trusted (Gallup, 2014). So the question is, what is the most trustworthy form of media on the internet and TV?
When it comes to TV reporting, even well respected channels and well researched programs are not always accurate as they have many different researchers and presenters, with their own investigative sources which can fluctuate, and sometimes be good or bad. The broadcaster may also bow to political correctness of a certain viewpoint, for example in religion, or the TV station or presenter may have a political bias which could impinge reporting. For example: “In the age of mass media, democratic governments and politicians may find it useful to simulate the political virtues of transparency through rhetorical and media manipulation”(Yale, 1998). Therefore, tuning into programs that are run by a channel which is known for presenting all sides of a story, and watching presenters who are clear on their political views, and have a track record for accurate reporting, is the best way to go. Additionally, researching specific subject matter shown on the TV, on the internet, will enable a far broader view on the subject. Certain criteria should be followed to insure that that the information attained is current, reliable and trustworthy.
In order to access trustworthy online sources, various factors should be taken into consideration, these include: ensuring that the website or a page that it is linked to, belongs to a clearly identifiable respected organization, and that author’s qualifications are distinctly identifiable; and looking for other forms of verification such as membership of a professional body. Additionally, there should not be any type of bias; and the information should be checked to ascertain whether it is primary or secondary; that is to say, in the case of the former, e.g. a report such as a peer reviewed article stating the facts, or in the case of the latter, a group discussion about what was written in the article. Therefore, the aim should be retrieving primary sources. Also, the information on the website should be verifiable. For example, if there is a bibliography it should be assessed against a library source. Also, the organization of the web pages should be noted, for example: the links should be checked to ensure they are credible; the information that it gives should be current, and the update to the page should be within an acceptable timespan (McGraw-Hill, n.d.).
In summary, this type of research that the internet offers is unsurpassed, which is why I prefer it to other forms of media. And whilst some TV stations offer some very well researched programs, there are a number of factors, such as bias, that can interfere with a balanced presentation.
- Gallup (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.gallup.com/poll/176042/trust-mass-media-returns-time-low.aspx (Accessed June 17, 2015).
- McGraw-Hill (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.mhhe.com/mayfieldpub/webtutor/judging.htm (Accessed June 17, 2015).
- Yale (1998). Retrieved from: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/jbalkin/articles/media01.htm (Accessed June 17, 2015).