April 24, 2020
As PR professionals, much of what we do is reading, absorbing, and decoding news. What we read in the media plays a large role in creating our foundation for reality, so knowing now to analyze the accuracy of reporting is vital, especially during a pandemic. Here are a few tips that have helped me distinguish fake or misleading news and data from the real deal:
1. Know the importance of accurate and respectful reporting
Bad reporting is a big deal. What we read and digest from the news has a significant impact on us, whether we’re learning something new, starting to care about an issue we hadn’t before, or gaining a perception of what is good and bad, right and wrong.
What we see in the media is meant to spark passion – whether positive or negative – and empower people to act. Inaccurate or incendiary reporting often leads to warped perceptions of reality, misguided actions, and harm to others and yourself.
2. Find sources you trust and subscribe to their newsletter
Breaking news email alerts are the modern version of the paper boy yelling the latest headline during your morning commute. Subscribing to trusted publications’ weekly and daily digest newsletters is a great way to see and quickly absorb what the publication deems most important.
Subscribing to newsletters from publications in various sectors (e.g. local news, business, tech, healthcare, entertainment, policy) is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of a variety of topics, and will make you a formidable trivia opponent!
3. Get local, national, and global perspectives
Accurate reporting can still be presented through many different lenses. I like to know how that news is being reported within my local community – have the local media published several articles on the topic, or did they merely mention it in passing? Is there news in my community not being reported nationally? How are other countries’ media reporting on the topic? Understanding these different angles allows me to better know how to react.
4. Second-guess news from social media
… But don’t disregard it! Lots of accurate reporting comes from social media, especially Twitter, as many journalists, sources, or “watchdogs” will break news by posting it from their accounts. That said, use caution. Before engaging with, or sharing, a social media post, I like to Google the key words to find an article from a source I trust backing it up – and often going deeper.
Speaking of which…
5. Go beyond the headline – at least before sharing
I know, ugh! Headlines are made to be wonderfully digestible and easy to share, but they can often be misleading. Nothing is black-and-white, so reading the full piece will allow you to appreciate the subtleties of the issue. If you don’t have time, skim the first two paragraphs.
Looking for a good source for the latest in healthcare IT? Follow Aria on Twitter at @AriaMarketing, where we share breaking news and think pieces on all facets of the healthcare industry.