A Citizen's Guide to News and Information in the Digital Age
Author: John H. McManus, Ph.D.
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
View: 1272America is being torn apart by the rise of new sources of news that have no respect for facts or democracy. Coupled with politicians who cast honest journalists as frauds and enemies of the public, they are eroding the informational common ground and poisoning the process of reaching consensus that democracy requires. Public trust in professional journalism has fallen to the lowest point since polls began to measure confidence in the news. That makes us prey for unscrupulous media actors who whip up resentment and hatred of fellow Americans with false and distorted news reports. Because each group now has its own set of "facts," disputes cannot be resolved logically. We are becoming a nation of warring tribes, even to the point where we no longer wish to associate with each other. As a consequence, lawmakers no longer agree on what's real, much less what to do about it. Congress can no more plot a safe course forward than a squirrel caught in traffic. The only solution that respects freedom of speech is to equip all citizens with some basic tools - habits of mind - enabling them to discern truth from falsehood in this new information ecology of confusion. It's vital that we learn to critically assess news and information because in a democracy a misinformed vote counts as much as a wise one. And everyone is equally bound by the outcome. This book presents a method - the SMELL test - for separating real from fake and misleading news. But it goes much further: * Assessing the dimensions of a communication revolution that's upending politics and altering every aspect of modern life; * Exploring the limited nature of facts; * Explaining the origins of bias and how to uncover them; * Showing how self-interest on the part of individuals and news organizations influences what becomes news; * Providing realistic standards for news quality; * Describing how to "read" images and video; * Exposing common ways spinmeisters manipulate the public, and finally: * Reviewing online tools and techniques for unmasking bias, including our own.