There’s a lot of talk about truth in the news these days: What’s real? What’s “fake news”? Who decides?
Are you one of those who just knows it when you see it? Honestly, I kinda am, as well. But I’ve had more than 30 years of reporting, editing and immersing myself in the news media, so my lie detector is always on, if not always 100 percent accurate. For people just trying to learn what’s what in their community or places that matter to them, I realize that the internet has complicated things.
North Country Community College is hosting a virtual discussion about these issues on March 23. That’s a Tuesday, and it’s at 7:30 p.m. If you’re interested in what’s broadly called “news literacy,” or if you’re specifically interested in the newsgathering practices of outlets here in the Adirondacks, that’s what we’ll be discussing. I’ll join our friends at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the Lake Placid News and North Country Public Radio to discuss our practices and insights. Teen panelists from Tri-Lakes schools will discuss where they get their news, and how they determine whether they can trust it. It should be an interesting evening. You can register for it here.
Speaking of trust, it’s something we’ve been trying to build through transparency at the Explorer. Sometimes that means we’ll explain how or why we did a story — whether in our magazine, on our website or here in this newsletter. We also hope to share information about who we are and why we do this work. Toward that end, my colleague Mike Lynch has written something about his work. Check it out on our website.
Another chance to get to know us and our work happens after each magazine issue’s publication. We’re calling them “Coffee and Conversation” gatherings, though it’s definitely brew-your-own because, like so much of life during the pandemic, it happens online. Our next chat, in which our staff will discuss stories in the March-April magazine, happens at 10 a.m. on March 31. You can register for that one here. Sign up and let us know if you have any thoughts or questions about our work.
Photo of Adirondack Explorer Mike Lynch by Gwendolyn Craig/Explorer
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Brandon’s weekly “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.
I’m leaving for Florida early that day so I won’t be able to join in on that one. Stay safe, Gary
Honest question here. Does the Explorer consider itself a news magazine? Because I’m undecided on that question. The Almanack is a(n excellent) community blog :D, which includes some news among other types of articles (opinions, essays, event announcements, etc). I guess I’ve thought of the Explorer more as an outdoors lifestyle magazine, which includes some coverage of news, but only as it relates principally to environmental issues.
It seems like you’re expanding outside of that realm a bit, which I think is good! – but perhaps the best way to build trust is to be explicit that you’re doing so. You’ll get people that are fans of the direction you’re going in, and people who aren’t. Trust doesn’t necessarily require agreement. The truth doesn’t really care if you like it or not :), and I think a very wide range of people will recognize that you’re striving towards truth as long as you’re clear about your mission in doing so.
There is a definite difference between fake news and news delivered with a decided slant. Foxnews is delivered with a slant as is CNN, NBC, etc. As long as the consumer is aware there are two sides to most stories all is good. When the a publication, (or blog) delivers non-stop puff pieces on Tedra Cobb and nothing but negative news on Elise Stefanik or heralds Phil Brown while demonizing private property owners it makes you wonder whether you are consuming news or an editor’s views. I think many writers and editors today are so concrete in their beliefs they write them as news. As far as a good source of news without a slant, without an agenda…I haven’t found one of those yet.
For those really interested in the many shades of truth in the media, there is an organization in Colorado that publishes the Media Bias Chart. They use a bipartisan group of evaluators to score articles on bias (left-center-right) and also on what they politely call “reliability” (facts-opinion-lies). Their main focus is to provide materials to teachers, so they can teach news literacy and critical thinking to the next generation. (A lot of this generation is already lost.)
The number of media outlets that are reviewed is always being expanded, so all the big ones and many smaller ones are now listed. But not the Adirondack Explorer yet!
More info at https://www.adfontesmedia.com.