“News” as it is defined in most contemporary texts, is extinct.  What is now called “news” is technically editorial.  Editorial can contain factual information, but is woven together with opinion.  “News” per se should imply a basic reporting of events and facts.  A definite occurrence at a definite place and time involving specific people or things. Here’s some tips for spotting a less-than-factual report:

1 – “It’s been said that ___”

By whom?  What are their credentials? What makes their statement valid or significant?

2 – “It’s believed that ___”

A direct editorial admission.  A third-person statement without a verifiable source or accreditation provides no factual value or benefit to the listener/viewer.

3 – “Sources indicate ___”

Without verifiable sources, the statement is without merit.

4 – “I think ___”

A direct editorial admission.  There is no factual information conveyed with “I think” or “I believe”.

5 – “Most believe that ___”

If “most” is not identified or clarified, it’s meaningless.

6 – “Statistics show ___”

This is a key phrase, particularly when combined with a “margin of error” which is equal to, or greater than the difference of the ratio numbers.  For example, when a statement is made that something is 48% to 52%, but the margin of error is %8, then the actual numbers can be off by as much as 56% to 44% (respectively), or completely the opposite.

7 – “Obviously __”, “Apparently __”

Declarative statements are not only unimportant when reporting facts, they imply a tone of implied “agreement”.  Agreement is not fact.

8 – “Possibly __”, “Probably __”, “Very likely could ___”

Conjecture and prediction are not valid news components.  Facts are what matters to news.

9 – “Some day __”, “In the future __”

Same as number 8.

10 – Any situation where two or more “news” people are having a discussion about an event or situation, it is not news.

It only requires one person (if that) to report news.  News is fact.  Fact doesn’t require a conversation to make it true; It is true regardless of human conveyance or agreement.

So. Listen up.  Pay attention.  Apply your bullshit detector to anything and everything you see and hear.  You’ll be surprised at the overwhelming percentage of everything claiming to be “news” is actually not news at all, but someone’s opinion.  If you want bonus points, start asking what their real motives are.  Follow the money.


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