Who do you trust to tell you the news with pure objectivity and accuracy?
While that’s arguably never been an easy question to answer, its complexity has increased to mega-proportions in the digital era. Renowned journalists throughout history like Ernie Pyle, Walter Cronkite and Nellie Bly spent years working their way to the top echelons of journalistic credibility and had relatively little competition with others of comparable influence. These days, any idiot with Internet access can share his or her opinion to billions of people across the globe with the flick of a button.
How do we know which sources are credible? And how do we teach our kids to differentiate the good from the bad? Has the digital explosion of sources made our younger generations poorly informed because of near-impossible challenges for identifying reputable news outlets, or has it made our kids more discerning and skeptical news consumers than us?
I’d love to say that I have great answers to those questions, but I’d be a big liar. Instead, I’ve done a bit of research to compile just a few possible answers, below:
- A 2014 Pew Research study showed that the most trusted news outlets in the U.S…..are British. Going hand-in-hand with that research, Psychology Today recently reported that British accents are the most trusted, in surveys of people from all over the world. So are British journalists really better than their U.S. counterparts or do we just trust their accents?
- The website Mic — created as a news source by millennials for millennials (roughly described as the generation that reached adulthood around the year 2000) — compiled a list of “15 sources, which have earned their respectable reputations through investigative reporting and the maintenance of high journalistic standards of integrity.”
- A recent Slate Magazine story discussed the great need to provide students news media literacy courses that provide “practical understanding of what news outlets should be trusted as part of a balanced media diet and what outlets can be seen as something less than factual: opinion, storytelling, satire, or pure fiction masquerading as journalism.”
Being the sort of person who greatly prefers to teach a man to fish versus give a man a fish, the last option sounds to me like a pretty good answer. But are our youngest generations the only ones in need of this type of education? What are your thoughts?