I know I am in the news business. I shouldn’t say things to discredit my own profession. Some media have gone too far, though, so I feel I need to say something to warn readers and viewers, and caution them to think with discretion.
How can you verify what’s true?
Just because it’s printed in black and white doesn’t mean it’s the truth. You have newspapers running corrections every day, including one of the best papers, The New York Times.
What I worry about most is the Internet. It spreads the worse rumors. Sometimes, there’s no way to verify facts. To safeguard against this, follow these steps:
1. Always ask, “Can this be true?” Ask this especially if it sounds absurd.
2. Talk to more folks to get more information.
3. Examine the evidence. Is it cause and effect? Or is it a correlation?
4. Call the Seattle Public Library for quick information. Our library is first-class in verifying information.
5. Call the newspaper that prints the news, and ask for the source. You can do the same with television.
6. Question the source. Once my friend e-mailed me a health tip and said it was health guru Dr. Oz’s tip. I trust my friend, but I doubted the tip.
“Have you watched that program yourself?” I asked her.
“No, I haven’t,” she said.
“So someone else sent you that tip?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered.
Instantly, I realize it was a fake tip.
7. Is the piece you read one-sided? If it is, it’s likely propaganda.
And now that I have given you all these tips, please don’t bug me about every article in the paper. We try our best to be open-minded and fair in verifying sources and facts, but we’re also human. You don’t need to agree with us. But we’d still love to hear from you. ♦