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July 17, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

How do you evaluate a newsource? Critical media and reading skills

Why is critical reading important?

Separating the wheat from the chaff is one of the top 3 to 5 most important issues in terms of creating a healthy and truthful media diet. My experience in college debate and in coaching it makes me uniquely capable, as I would critically evaluate thousands of arguments and sources in a given year as a researcher.

I use a combination of mainstream news sources (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and others) and non-traditional sources (online blogs, but ideally reputable and/or credible blogs). Other vital sources include non-profits, associations and advocacy groups, and the government.

The Critical Reading Process: Critical Thinking and Media Skills for the Real World

Here are 12 questions that I think about that are indespensible in cutting through the BS:

  • Is the source credible?
  • Is the source the source is quoting credible?
  • Is there bias in this article? What perspective or experience or history does this represent? How does it impact the coverage?
  • Is this data or inference?
  • What data or part of the story might be missing?
  • What method was used for collecting and interpreting the data?
  • What is the other side of the story? What are other sources saying?
  • How can I actively seek out the best sources?
  • What kinds of perspectives can I seek out to find the best sources?
  • What is the distinction that makes a difference?
  • How does the author use language? Are they using it to clarify or confuse?

I don’t use all of these all of the time. Also, in a given article I might ask or answer these questions multiple times.

At the same time I’m often seeing the major players in an industry or issue.

This is ultimately a combination of critical media literacy, critical reading, and critical thinking. And then at the end, it might involve problem solving and decision-making in terms of comparing the various options available.

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