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Truth in the media

This post applies Mike Caulfield’s strategies of web literacy to examine the reliability of web content and is followed by reflections on web sources.

The exercise we chose to do from Mike Caulfield’s Four Moves Blog was: Mexico’s Border Wall?

As Caulfield suggests the first thing we did was to investigate the source. Having realized that this news had been published on Facebook, we realized that there was a high possibility it was not true since anyone can publish false news on social media without censorship. Hence we decided to look for previous work on this topic. We searched Google and found out that some had already written about this topic. The sites Truth or Fiction and Fast Check claimed that this news was fiction. However, we decided to do more research since we could not be sure whether this site was more trustworthy than
the one we investigated.

Our next step was to “go upstream” from the source. We used Google reverse image search to find the original image. This search brought us to the original image which proves that this image is not a border between Mexico and Guatemala but the Israeli West Bank wall. Google search brought us to a site called it24news which had written about this wall. However, in this site, it is claimed to be a wall that Israel builds along the Egyptian border to keep out African migrants and armed militants.

The third and most difficult step for us was reading laterally. We wanted to find out which source is reliable and the majority of published news on this topic made it much more difficult than we had expected. Having searched for reliable sources we found the text on Wikipedia about this wall. Even though, Wikipedia is not considered to be the most reliable source, we came to the conclusion that it gave us the necessary information.

Finally, we circled back and came to the conclusion that this news is false. The photograph is real but it is not the border of Mexico and the title is not accurate. This misleading post is shared for political purposes and therefore it is not objective.

Question 1: Why do we trust some sources more than others?

This question made us thinking and it proved to be quite difficult to decide how to approach this subject. The main reason why we were on the horns of the dilemma was because we believe that we should not trust any source completely. There is so much fake news today that we must take everything with a grain of salt.

However, it is definitely true that some sources are more reliable than others. Why is that? We thought of a couple of reasons why we would think that some source is more reliable than the other. First, we think of the history of that source. For example, if some newspaper has written a lot of fake news, naturally we won’t believe it in the future. Furthermore, some newspapers have journalists who educated themselves for this job and these newspapers will probably have more objective and reliable news.

Moreover, there is a difference between posts on social media where anyone can state their opinion and news from official media. However, we are not sure which one we should trust more than others. Especially in Serbia where there is no freedom of speech and where we don’t have reliable and objective media, many people turn to social media for information, and which one of these is more reliable is on each of us to decide.

In conclusion, we believe that we should not trust any source completely and that we should check each news no matter what the source is.

Question 2: How do we make sure we are not excluding valuable sources? What are the dangers of a diet of news only one type of source?

As we already said, there is so much misleading news nowadays that it is getting more difficult to choose a valuable source. Nevertheless, we believe that we should not exclude any source lightly. We should not judge any news merely based on source but we should do our own check and see whether the news is true or not. If we read only one source, we won’t have a complete picture and we will be deprived of valuable information. As Caulfield suggests we should read laterally and in that way we can distinguish what is real and what is fake. Also, we should have multiple viewpoints for every topic if we want to be
objective. All in all, we agreed that excluding any source can do more harm than good and that in order to get proper information we should first stop and think of the news we read and then do some of the steps Caulfield suggests.

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