Feb. 3 2020 12:00 AM

Always consider the source and the objective.

Just because it is on the internet or television does not mean it is factual. How does anyone differentiate between truth and falsehood when discussing topics that you are uneducated about? Unfortunately, most will believe what they hear or see rather than taking the time to look for confirmation or dig deeper into the content.

While no one wants to be associated with fake news, many times details are stretched and only one side of a story is shared. Telling a lie or not telling all of the truth can erode the value of communication. And sharing those type of items on social media perpetuates inaccuracies.

I ran across an article that provides eight pieces advice on identifying fake news. It was written by Jim Boren, executive director of Media and Public Trust at Fresno State and a previous journalist with a major California newspaper.
1. Look past your own biases.
2. Do you recognize the source of the article?
3. Use search engines to see if anyone else is reporting the story.
4. Check the link in your browser.
5. Are there other stories on that particular website, and what is their tone?
6. Google the author to see if the byline is from an actual person.
7. There are many good fact-checking sites.
8. Always be skeptical.

When negative news is published about people or ideas that we oppose, we are more likely to believe the worst about them. There are algorithms in place on social media that show you stories that are in line with other articles you have read, liked, and/or shared. This does not provide the opportunity to see both sides of an issue.

One way to sniff out questionable content is to ask yourself, “Does the writing have good grammar and proper punctuation?” Be cautious of items with lots of exclamation points and misspelled words. That can be a sign of uncertain journalism.

Consider checking a story’s validity by researching the details before sharing it on social media. Examples offered by Boren included factcheck.org, snopes.com, or politifact.com. If it comes from someone’s Facebook page, dig deeper for the original source to be certain it is viable.

Questioning content as a first reaction will help you be a smarter consumer of news and less likely to share stories that are attention-grabbing, yet inaccurate. However, the basic premises should also be evaluated, especially when topics try to reach into our hearts with emotion, and not merit or logic.

The goal is to look at information with a more critical eye, be willing to speak up when information is inaccurate and only share verifiable information. Imagine if everyone thought through every story before they shared or retold it. There would be a lot less noise out there!

Patti Hurtgen

The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars, and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.

The next Hoard's Dairyman webinar is February 10, 2020:
"Nutritional regulation of gut function in calves: colostrum and milk"

Michael Steele, University of Guelph, will present “Nutritional regulation of gut function in calves: colostrum and milk” on Monday, February 10, at noon (Central time).

Feeding high-quality colostrum is one of the most critical factors in calf survival and health. New strategies to transition calves from colostrum to high planes of milk nutrition early in life also will be shared during the webinar.

The webinar is sponsored by Cargill.

Click to register.