Who else was tempted to throw in the towel on news and social media during 2020? I was. I was so confused about what the “real” story was on several events. I wondered why some stories got coverage and why some didn’t. Conspiracy theories were everywhere and I heard about QAnon for the first time. Sometimes I feel like I STILL don’t understand everything that happened during this year of pandemic, social unrest, elections, scandals, and natural disasters of all kinds. Since then, I have learned a lot about the media, good sources, manipulation, bias, and a host of other things. Here are a few of my favorite resources to become more educated when it comes to consuming the news and using social media.
Resources for Learning About Bias
AllSides.com rates each news agency and how much bias they show in their coverage. I really appreciate this chart that shows the bias of each major news agency. They suggest (as do many experts) that you read from several sources across the spectrum in order to get a good sense of each news situation.
Sharon (@sharonsaysso on Instagram) exploded on the Instagram scene about six months ago, and everyone adores her. This is because she does such a great job of explaining the way government works and looking at a variety of hot button issues from a factual and neutral viewpoint. Sharon is a former high school government teacher who is now “America’s Government Teacher” and hosts a class called “Government For Grownups.” I really recommend finding her on Instagram and watching her Bias/Fact Highlights. She explains is so well that this would be a great activity to do with your kids. Lots of learning going on here!
Digging Deeper into Media Manipulation
Sharyl is a 5 time Emmy award winner for her investigative reporting. And she is GOOD. Her show Full Measure is my current obsession and I just got her newest book, Slanted. She has taught me SO MUCH about digging deeper, following the money, and being skeptical when major news agencies cover the same story in the same way. (Many times, even with the same words!) These videos from her are a MUST WATCH.
This movie is found ONLY on Netflix. Borrow an account if you must, but watch this movie with your teens and tweens. It details how social media is literally engineered to hack our brains so that our behavior can be manipulated into making them money. This is another MUST WATCH.
Recognizing bias and manipulation is great . . . but we still need to get our news from reputable places. Here are some great finds:
Jenna Lee Babin worked as a professional journalist in New York, including seven years as a national anchor for FOX News, when she realized that the news needed a major overhaul. She broke away and created SmartHerNews – her own news platform that is completely independent, meaning that she does not receive any funding from corporate or government interests. She takes her oath of non-partisanship so seriously, that she is not even registered to vote- a sacrifice she has made to ensure her journalistic integrity.
I love SmartHerNews, because I appreciate the non-partisanship, but I also enjoy the bullet point news that I can access quickly. I feel informed within just a few minutes, as Jenna provides only facts and not commentary or opinion.
I already explained what Allsides.com does with their bias chart, but they also share news coverage from the left, right and center. I appreciate how they share EVERY viewpoint.
If you want analysis of the news delivered right to your email, then The Flip Side is for you. The Flip Side takes an issue and then gets analysis and commentary from both the right and the left, so that you can read and understand a news item from both sides.
I’ve been so grateful for these resources, whose only motivation is to serve and inform. I hope they help you, too. (If you want a great way to teach kids about manipulation, check out this post.)