Fake news is becoming increasingly problematic, and differentiating real news from fake takes a little effort and critical thinking.
Next time you go on social media for news, ask yourself if every angle of the story has been considered and if the reporting organization might have a specific agenda. If the content you are reading seems one-sided, chances are, the organization wants you to click on that story.
In the news business, it is not uncommon for varying opinions to collide over fact.
This has a lot to do with the way a story is framed. The reporters, however unbiased they try to be, may see an issue a certain way and report on it accordingly.
With so many varied views of an issue due to outside influences on social media, it can be frustrating for news gatherers and readers to find the actual facts. Many times readers are left scratching their heads, only to find there was more to the story than reported on.
The Observer is very aware of this dilemma.
Bias, in essence, is expected to be set aside when an Observer reporter sits down to write, for the greater good of telling the story and informing our readers. This is what we strive for at every event and with every story: to report on the details and all sides of an issue.
This is where the line between blowing an issue out of proportion and pointing out a real problem can be drawn.
For instance, a vague national news story says two African-American men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia for doing nothing. A frame was placed on the story that Starbucks and/or the police were in the wrong.
The question we should all ask, before jumping to a conclusion, is, “Who were these men and what actually happened before they were arrested?”
Another news source reports that the men had asked the store manager to use the restroom more than once and were denied because they were not paying customers. They still pushed the manager to allow them to use the restroom.
The manager called the police, saying the men refused to either buy something or leave. When officers arrived, the men still refused to leave until arrested.
In the aftermath, Starbucks decided not to press charges.
The situation has been cast as racist. Was it?
Under law, owners of private property, including Starbucks restaurants, have the right to ask people to leave, and refusal to obey is trespassing. Police have the authority and obligation to enforce that law.
Whether you stand with the two men, Starbucks or Philadelphia police, both sides of the story have been presented — by some news organizations.
Click bait might be a good way to boost social-media numbers, but does it accurately represent the issue?
The Observer refuses to go in the direction of sensational headlines and click-bait reporting. The fad of fake news may not be slowing down, but neither are we when it comes to reporting the facts.