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In our current political climate, being able to trust the news you read is more important than ever. Coincidentally, our social-media-saturated lives mean we also have more news outlets bombarding us with news than ever — which can get confusing to say the least.
As women who are just starting out in our careers, learning how to “adult,” and trying to support our (expensive) wine-drinking habit, being politically informed and staying up-to-date on current events can seem overwhelming at times — especially when it’s damn near impossible to find a news source you can actually trust.
So we’ve done the hard research for you — because knowing what’s going on in the world is necessary if you want to take it over someday. So add “read the news” to your to-do list, ladies.
Why Do Reliable News Sources Matter?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our country is pretty intensely divided right now. Which means that everybody — and I do mean everybody — has an opinion. About immigration, taxes, women’s rights, healthcare, even bathrooms, for goodness sake. And hey, you absolutely have the right to your own opinion about whatever you like — but if that opinion is shaped by false information, then is it really valid? No matter how much you may want them to, personal opinions will never override, change, or influence cold, hard facts. So always make sure the “facts” you cite as reasons to back up your arguments are, in fact, FACTS. It’s easy to see something on TV or read an article that looks legit on Facebook and take the information at face value, but if you blindly spread false information — intentionally or unintentionally — then you are contributing to the problem.
Elise and I recently wrote an article about how important it is to try to listen and understand each other, rather than tear each other down — especially when it comes to our fellow feminists. But when Democrats only trust liberal-leaning news sources (New York Times, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, etc.), and Republicans only trust conservative-leaning news sources (Fox News, Breitbart, The Blaze, etc.), then how are we ever supposed to find any common ground? The only way to make sure you are truly seeing the full picture of any issue is to view it from all angles. If you find yourself nodding in agreement to everything you hear or read, then take some time to research the opposing side’s position — remember that there are always two sides to every story. Only after you have ALL of the facts can you honestly decide what you think for yourself — otherwise, you are essentially regurgitating random headlines or statistics that may or may not be true (or just grossly skewed in a certain direction).
How Do You Know if a News Source is Reliable?
First of all, know WHAT exactly the source is. If I had a dime for each of the obscene amount of articles floating around on Facebook that are published by sites like “Democratic Daily” or “Conservative Mindset,” well, I probably wouldn’t be writing this article because I wouldn’t need a job. But the moral of the story is: always check the title of the website before you trust the content. I have so many Facebook friends who share these articles and say “This is exactly how I feel,” or “AMEN!” in response to an obviously one-sided article that is basically a glorified opinion piece and couldn’t be further from actual journalism. The dangerous part about this is that reading an article you agree with somehow validates your opinions — and when they are already formulated on shaky factual ground, this becomes a problem. Just because someone agrees with you doesn’t make you right.
I once had a friend trying to talk to me about the upcoming election and why he would never even consider voting for Hillary — when I asked him why, he pulled up a meme on his phone that told the story of Hillary representing a rapist years ago and laughing at the victim. The problem? When I looked at the image he had pulled up on Google Images, the source was Snopes, and the caption underneath it very clearly stated: “FALSE.” But all he saw was the story the image told, and he had based his entire political opinion around a factually inaccurate post that he didn’t bother to research.
When you see a claim, fact, or statistic on the internet, just look it up. At least try to research it on your own before you whole-heartedly believe it. The same goes for any information you hear from TV show hosts or talk radio — just because someone in a position of power says it, doesn’t make it true. A good rule of thumb is that if something seems unbelievable, then chances are it probably is. Blindly believing everything you hear may be the easiest option, but it’s certainly not the most effective if you ever want to actually know the truth.
Which News Sources Can You Trust?
I don’t have cable, so I haven’t really watched the news since I moved out of my parents’ house six years ago. I don’t get the newspaper, either. This seems to be the trend that many millennials are moving toward — so how are we supposed to get our news? Unfortunately, this is why so many people have begun to rely on social media to keep them informed — but platforms like Facebook have recently been under fire for promoting “fake news” (aka false information). So who can you trust?
TheSkimm: A few years ago, I decided I wanted to stay in the know about what was going on in the world, so I subscribed to theSkimm, which is a daily newsletter that gives you a brief overview of current events for that day + an easy-to-read blurb that explains the high points. They’ve also recently launched their “Make No Excuses” campaign, which takes an in-depth look at hot and heavy issues, such as immigration, and breaks them down for you so you can understand each issue from all angles.
The Everygirl: Like Earn Spend Live, The Everygirl strives to provide women with the most accurate, unbiased information about what’s going on — and how that affects us as women. They aren’t like a traditional news source in that they won’t cover every breaking issue (or even most of them, to be honest), but what they do choose to write about is always relevant and always well-written.
BBC: According to a new study by Pew Research Center that analyzed how Americans of every ideological group view news sources, the most trusted news sources in America ironically happen to be British (perhaps because they are literally just reporting and have no personally vested interest in the outcome?). BBC and The Economist topped the list for most trusted across the board.
The Wall Street Journal: As far as newspapers go, the WSJ is going to be the best at portraying accurate, unbiased information. You have to be a subscriber to read their articles online, but in this case, you get what you pay for (which is only $12 for your first 12 weeks, and then $99 for a 6-month digital-only subscription).
PBS/NPR: Many news outlets are owned by a larger corporation or business, meaning that their news is inherently biased because they will never shed a negative light on their parent company. However, PBS and NPR are the exception because they’re publicly-funded television and radio stations. In fact, a study in 2010 discovered that PBS was the most unbiased news source, ahead of commercial networks such as Fox News, CNN, and others. As an added bonus, listening to NPR makes it easy to multitask while you stay informed — you can listen while you’re cleaning your house, commuting to work, etc.
Snopes: When in doubt, Snope it out. Though there have been rumors that the founders of Snopes have some sort of underlying political agenda, this has never been proven — in fact, they receive a pretty healthy amount of criticism from both sides of the aisle. But how do they manage to stay so unbiased? Well, according to FactCheck.org (which is another reliable news source, FYI), one of the founders is a Canadian citizen and as such has no personal ties to American politics, and the other has “never joined a party, worked for a campaign, or donated money to a candidate.” The article goes on to say that after close examination of some of their more politically charged “Fact Checks” they found them to be “utterly poker-faced.”
Which News Sources Are the Most Biased?
Honestly, pretty much all news sources are biased to some degree. But according to the same study that is listed above, some of the least-trusted news sources by every ideological group include Buzzfeed, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Daily Show, Slate, and The Sean Hannity Show — just to name a few.
That’s not to say you should avoid these news outlets at all costs — just take the information they publish with a grain of salt. And again: research anything and everything you hear, see, or read — and think twice before you hit the share button. It doesn’t hurt to double-check even the sources that you think you can trust. The more accurately informed you are, the more confidently you can state (and back up) any opinion you hold.