• Harrison Wilmot

What can we believe now? fact-checking


The news is a crucial part of people’s everyday lives. It’s that uplifting hope they can trust upon. It’s where all of the drama and mayhem happening in the world is printed out onto paper, copy and pasted onto a website, or read aloud on TV. It’s everyone’s source of optimism for the future. The news is constantly alerting us to what’s happening in the world. Where do they get that information? And how can we tell that it’s factually accurate?


Fact-checking is one of the most critical aspects of journalism. It checks claims to prove their accuracy and legitimacy. The Conversation, a not-for-profit media outlet that also has a YouTube channel under the same name, discloses why they fact-check: “We do fact-checks to provide reliable information and correct the record if we’re being misled.” Fact-checking is a tedious, time-consuming process. First, the editors working at The Conversation will identify a controversial claim. The Conversation would invite an academic who specializes in fact-checking to look at the claim. Next, you get a second perspective from another scholar to do a “blind review.” Here, the person reads the draft without any knowledge of the author and checks for common errors of bias, opinions, or misleading information. Lastly, the lead editor reads through the finished draft and polishes up the whole article. While this whole process is happening, the initial author of the story always has the “right of reply” and can go back to the story any time to connect the specialists’ findings with his own thoughts.


Aside from the various websites, TV broadcasts, and newspapers, the most important and conflicted news source during this time era is social media. Social media has always been an outlet for people to express their feelings. It used to be a place to connect with friends you haven’t seen for years. However, all good things always come to an end. News and politics have found their way onto social media brands. Polarized politics have divided social media into two sides. And people on these social media apps frequently use misleading and poorly-checked information as their defense in arguments. It’s become second nature for users to base their opinions on fragmented information taken directly from social media. More and more people are using misleading information to fight against others on the opposite side.


However, not all hope is lost. According to a 2019 reporter’s lab census at Duke University, fact-checking organizations have risen from 44 to 195 in the last five year. This reflects people’s increasing awareness of the potential biases present in our news sources and shows a more promising outlook for the future of journalism and social media.


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