As with other things in life, Professor Fred Blevens believes it’s important to practice safe news.
Blevens teaches communication in the FIU College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts and has devoted the last 10 years of his career to news literacy research and education.
“We are seeing a return to how political coverage was in the 1800s – almost all of it was partisan,” said Blevens. “Our founding fathers made sure that all political speech was protected – even the erroneous and misleading. In the context of politics, you can say just about anything and you don’t have to back it up.”
Google and Facebook recently announced measures aimed at cutting off revenue streams for fake news sites, after the two Internet companies came under heavy criticism for the role fake news on their sites might have played in influencing the U.S. presidential election. However, there are a few things that news consumers can do to guard against falling prey to partisan and fake news making the rounds on the Internet. Here are Blevens’ top five tips:
1. Consume a healthy and varied news diet. Build yourself a good news feed from a variety of credible sources. Know the difference between commentary and news coverage.
2. Dedicate 20-30 minutes a day to being informed. News consumption can take place in one sitting or throughout the day.
3. Have a few go-to sites to check claims. Blevens likes Snopes.com, PolitiFact.com and Google.
4. Appreciate Satire. Satire can be some of the best political commentary. There’s nothing wrong with reading fake news, as long as you know it’s fake.
5. Be careful what you share on social media. Share news from credible sources. If you share satire or fake news make sure it is clearly labeled as such.
“I tell my students that it’s important to read across ideologies. That’s how you are able to evaluate and decide what enters your news diet,” Blevens said.