It’s no secret that our news sources are politically biased, but how does this impact you? Bias in the media misleads and divides us – Americans are more polarized than ever.

News from the left often feeds extremist opinions of the right to its readers/watchers and vise versa, further dividing our nation. So how can you avoid bias and find the truth? We’ve listed our top tips below:

5 TIPS FOR FINDING THE OBJECTIVE TRUTH

1. Recognize and resist your human urge to believe what you WANT to believe. It is completely natural for us to unconsciously ignore information that does not support our opinion. Keep this in mind and try to consider every point objectively.

2. Question everything!

3. Think for yourself – just because your parents, friends, or neighbors believe it, that doesn’t make it true (but that doesn’t make it false, either.)

4. Seek multiple sources with varying perspectives – facts tend to be corroborated and are supported by substantial evidence.

5. Remember that given multiple versions of the “truth”, the accurate one tends to be the most reasonable and the simplest.

Unfortunately, even those of us with the most balanced news diet will come across media sources with ulterior motives.

These motives could be preconceived beliefs, stakeholders’ ambitions, prejudice. Fake news, sensationalism and clickbait generate revenue. You have probably seen clickbait articles before – the ones that pop up and say “the world is ending in two days” – you click the link and realise something has been taken completely out of context and used as a title for a story to terrify us, confuse us or make us angry.

Imagine if you didn’t know the facts and you took that title literally. You would tell your family, your friends, your Facebook connections etc. and that notion would spread like wildfire. This is why it is so important to read multiple, varied news sources and look for the facts.

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5 TIPS FOR CHOOSING TRUSTWORTHY NEWS SOURCES

1. Consider a news source’s motives – Are they trying to scare you? Do they want you to vote in a certain way? Or is it just about money?

2. Pay attention to tone – the more hyperbolic the language or over-stimulating the visuals and sounds, the more you are being emotionally manipulated.

3. Know the difference between news and editorial, and choose sources that make a clear distinction between the two, with a balance weighted towards news.

4. Beware of moralizing in the news – it’s YOUR job to decide what’s right and wrong, not theirs.

5. Look for professionalism: good grammar/spelling/syntax, thorough presentation, and educated sources are signs of accurate reporting.

Bonus: Always ask yourself “What are they OMITTING from this story?”

There are a lot of websites out there promising to deliver news but presenting opinions as fact. Everyone has an opinion – journalists, reporters, teachers, lecturers and so on – but if an article lists no sources to corroborate their story, it’s probable that the story is purely an opinion.

The positive news here (excuse the pun) is that there ARE websites and journalists out there providing balanced news sources. If we can gain a broader view of what is happening in the world, we can start to understand each other. Less polarization allows us to appreciate others and engage in productive problem solving — and ultimately, heal our democracy.

For a balanced approach to the news, you can visit our partner allsides.com

Credit: Eric Hemion – www.erichemion.com