First, trust the Associated Press
If I had a wish, it would be that everyone gets their news from the AP. The Associated Press has been a serious news gathering entity since the 1840s. The AP is a nonprofit organization. Members, whose paid membership allows access to the AP wire news and feature stories from around the U.S. and the world, are news businesses and their reporters. AP members adhere to journalism standards and integrity. Nowadays with so much news choice and sources especially online, an AP affiliate can be trusted for accuracy in presenting the facts, unbiased, nonpolitical and with all sides presented.
These are signs of a trustworthy news story:
Does the article or broadcast contain all the Ws & H [Who, What, When, Where, Which, Why & How];
Are there at least three different unrelated reliable sources cited in the story;
Is the story balanced by more than one viewpoint (pro and con);
Is the story told in third person?
Is the article free of emotional appeal?
News and media entities that are AP members will proudly display the AP logo. So look for it. And if you don’t see it or can’t find it, contact the AP:
Or join the AP as a journalism student or teacher:
The International Federation of Journalists honors slain, assaulted reporters
(for reporting news some people don’t want the world to know)
Around the world more than 1,000 journalists have been killed since 2009. Last year the most dangerous country for journalists was not somewhere in the Middle East but right in our own hemisphere: Mexico with 10 intentional murders of reporters. The International Federation of Journalists, based in Belgium, has been keeping tabs of journalists killed on the job or for being a reporter. Annually the IFJ presents a public document called Roll Call, honoring and naming all working media people killed because of their profession.
During 2019 there were 49 deaths of media personnel “killed for reporting on abuse of power, corruption and crime,” according to the IFJ report. Some journalists were killed among the crowds when a terrorist bomb exploded. Many of the deceased journalists were targeted for reporting the news of nations in political and social turmoil, last year involving 18 countries. Latin America had the highest death toll last year of 18 killings.
The IFJ also keeps tabs on escalating violence against journalists which last year were more than a hundred substantiated cases and dozens of harassment and media interference. One positive outcome in the report was the recent guilty verdict for the 2009 deaths of 32 journalists during the Philippines’ Mindanao massacre.
A few of the journalists murdered—including targeted attacks, bomb attacks and crossfire—last year were:
Lyra McKee, 29, shot while covering riots at the Creggan housing estate in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, by a gunman shooting at police;
Norma Sarabia Garduza, who covered violence in Huimanguillo, a city in Tabasco, Mexico, shot by two men on a motorbike after arriving to her home. Because of threats, she no longer included her byline on her articles;
Hodan Nalayeh, 43, Somali journalist killed by a suicide attack.
Of the 49 journalists and media personnel killed last year, 18 were in the Americas—and 10 of those intentional deaths were in Mexico. Last year a journalist was killed in Mexico on Feb. 2, Feb. 11, Feb. 20, May 2, May 16, June 11, July 30, Aug. 2 and Aug. 24.
The rest of the global figures were:
12 in Asia & the Pacific
9 in Africa
8 in the Arab world and Middle East
2 in Europe.
“Across the globe, media workers are killed, jailed and harassed simply for exercising their rights to free expression as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to inform the public,” according to IFJ’s Roll Call. In Europe alone last year, the IFJ investigated 137 “serious violations of press freedom including nearly 80 cases of violations of the safety and physical integrity of journalists.” Most of the European scenarios were in France (the yellow vest protests) and Spain (the Catalan uprising).
“Journalists have the right to work in safety, especially in conflict zones,” according to the IFJ Roll Call, “and failure to do so deprives societies of access to reliable information about events affecting their lives and undermines their ability to contribute to end the conflict.”
The Great Divide: How to Find the Other Side
By Cherie Bell
Founder/Executive Director, News Junkies Inc.
American democracy is all about opinions—allowing all citizens to hear issues of the day and then decide if they are for or against, pro or con. But in the internet age, finding political websites that are nonpartisan—neither liberal nor conservative—and present more than one side of the issues requires quite a bit of research and time. Below is a list of nonbiased websites that present more than one point of view. They are nonprofits, though some accept advertising along with donations, and promote themselves as the go-to sites when researching all sides of controversial subjects. Most have a blog for readers to post their agreements and disagreements. Some sites seek readers’ suggestions on new and timely topics to explore as well as poll. As News Junkies Inc. researches ways to educate and encourage the public to use multimedia in order to fully understand issues and viewpoints, these internet sites are a great place to start, as News Junkies Inc. also believes in reformatting media, in this case political news websites, so controversial issues are viewed side by side—creating equality and respect for a nation of many voices.
When seeking varied opinions or the simple truth, the first site to check is Pulitzer-prize winning PolitiFact. Started by the Tampa Bay Times in 2007, Politifact’s slogan is “fact checking U.S. politics.” Pages include the Truth-O-Meter, Promises, and the down-right funny Pants on Fire! PolitiFact, now owned and operated by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, is transparent in its process, staff, and funding sources and encourages public suggestions for fact checking—beginning with media reports.
“Fact-checking journalism is the heart of PolitiFact,” wrote Angie Drobnic Holan on the site’s About page, February 12, 2018: “The reason we publish is to give citizens the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy.”
The site’s popular Truth-O-Meter rates statements by politicians and others in the news. Based on a statement’s ‘shades of gray,’ the finding will be either: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, and the out-right lie Pants on Fire! The Meter also indicates a politician’s statement as No Flip, Half Flip, and Flip Flop to indicate a complete change of position. Examples of Truth-O-Meter analyses include one from Texas Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: “The Obama administration had cut $300 million from school safety.” The Meter indicated the statement as “mostly false” and presented researched articles to support the finding. Another feature in the Truth-O-Meter is a politician’s scorecard of true-to-false statements.
Rating the statement “The flu shot was designed to spread cancer,” the Meter indicated Pants on Fire!—indicated by an animated image of live flames. A statement by Democrat Bernie Sanders was tested by the Meter: “The Koch brothers have given $500,000 in campaign contributions” to Paul Ryan, which was rated as Half True with news research to substantiate why it was neither true nor false.
PolitiFact’s People page lists a plethora of elected officials, with photos, as well as political organizations with one-click connections to their websites for contact information. All in all, PolitiFact may be known well in academic, media, corporate and political circles. But it should be a household name and used frequently in homes across the U.S.
All Sides http://www.allsides.com
Priding itself as technology driven, All Sides, based in San Francisco, presents a clear newsfeed set in blocked format with titles “From the Left,” “From the Right,” and “From the Center.” An example from the news was “Trump and Kim Jong Un To Meet” with articles from The Washington Post (left view block), National Review (right view block) and The Korea Herald (center view block). The news page labels commentary as OPINION so readers know the piece is not intended as a news article.
Other pages on the site include Media Bias, Balanced Search, and Discussion Across Divides. The All Sides’ website motto is phrased as a warning to readers: “Don’t be fooled by media bias and fake news.” In the site’s About section, the mission of All Sides is: “Free people from filter bubbles so they can better understand the world and each other.” As a community-driven network, All Sides calls itself “a multi-partisan revolution” through technologies “fueled by data and people like you.”
Readers may participate in and submit opinions, such as rating Media Bias and Civil Dialogue Across Divides. Besides a news service, All Sides’ sections feature a TED Talk on Bridging Divides, articles and research under Filter Bubbles as well as How the Internet Trains Our Brains to Polarize and Despise. Subsections on the About page include News, Issues, Dialog, Search, and Schools. The Dialog section allows readers to click Engage in a Civil Dialog and select from recommended online conversations, such as:
“The best way to fight economic inequality is through job creation.”
“Should the U.S. have stricter Gun Control laws?”
“Should the U.S. deport illegal immigrants?”
Viewers click a subject line, read articles or proposals, then slide Your Overall Opinion, from Disagree to Agree (clicking a smiley face which frowns along the Disagree side and smiles toward Agree). Readers can drag pro and con comments visible from the sides of the screen and click to save their opinions.
The Media Bias Ratings are driven by viewership. From a long list of internet news sources—from AARP to Common Cause, TheBlaze.com and Yahoo News—viewers can click boxes marked L (left leaning), R (right leaning) and others in between to choose their thoughts on a news site’s political bias.
ProCon.org’s online motto is “The leading source for pros and cons of controversial issues.” The free website, supported by donations, came online in 2004 and lists all donors and sponsors. Its mission statement supports its niche for purely controversial topics: “Promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format.” Indeed ProCon’s logo is an animated human head opened on top with a light bulb, exclamation point, world globe, and a question mark—representing knowledge pouring in.
Controversial issues are categorized as Most Popular, Health and Medicine, and Education. Under Most Popular are subcategories such as medical marijuana, gun control, death penalty, and illegal immigration. The newest controversy was recreational marijuana. Click it on, and the page format features a large photo of a marijuana leaf with plants in the background and the question “Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?” On the page is an article of facts plus paragraphs supporting and opposing the issue. Below the facts are blocks of Top Pros and Cons, side by side, more than a dozen listed equally for both political viewpoints.
Each controversial topic page includes a homepage for the subject with background, pro/con quotes, and “Recommended for you…” for lots more information including a DIG DEEPER section citing source biographies and footnotes.
Founded in 2007 “out of a special passion for politics and debate,” according to the homepage, Debate.org features debates, opinions, forums, and polls of myriad topics ranging from the politically serious to the trivial and juvenile. Though the site is funded by ads, Debate.org takes itself very seriously: “The premise of the website was to enable a person of any creed, nationality, gender, or sexuality to have a platform to voice their opinions and to share ideas on any topic they choose.”
The Debate scroll lists topics from arts, cars and health to music and religion—with politics by far the most viewed. Viewers may click topics to read and participate in debates or click START A NEW DEBATE, which is for members only. The Opinion page lists several issues whereby viewers simply click Yes or No:
Do you believe in a future without prejudice?
Is holocaust worst than slavery?
Is racism against white people ignored?
Debate.org provides insight into other viewpoints and may appeal more to young people and school students.
These are a few of the very few nonbiased news and opinion websites. Each is worth exploring extensively. Perhaps in so doing, maybe the edge will be removed from national political discourse as opposing views are better understood. The bottom line with these websites is to have fun, learn and enjoy the view from another side.
Welcome to the new & improved News Junkies Inc. website!
By Cherie Bell, Founder/Executive Director
At long last, the News Junkies Inc. website has a new look and accessibility, presented with viewers and students in mind. Take a look and click through the pages. Notable for students are Write 1 News & 1 Editorial featuring journalism writing exercises and the weekly updated News Digest presenting links to excellent journalism on current affairs. We encourage high school and college students to submit their original white papers and essays about journalism and the news media for publication on our website.
News Junkies Inc. was founded in 2018 as an educational nonprofit to advocate for journalism and journalists through: high school J-camp workshops on the history of journalism in America's foundation and the relevance of journalism in maintaining democracy; podcast interviews/white papers/blog; journalism writing exercises and other learning activities; and weekly News Digest representing excellent professional news coverage. Our mottos are: News, not views; Just the facts; and News matters. We also want to invite others to join the News Junkies Inc. Board, anyone with a strong interest in journalism and/or background in the journalism field or education. Board members can serve up to 2 consecutive terms, each term lasting two years. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. News Junkies Inc. is a 501c(3) nonprofit based in Dallas, Texas.
With school closures due to the current pandemic, please use our website as a class and student resource. Students would enhance their studies in not only journalism and communications courses but also history, civics/government, and language arts especially reading comprehension and writing in third person (news) and first person (editorial commentary).
I want to thank Firespring for designing and building our nonprofit website especially geared toward students and user friendliness. Our logo, seen as a background on the landing page, was designed by art teacher and graphic artist Katie Bogen. The graphic logo was my idea: a brick wall spray painted with the name News Junkies Inc. in graffiti style, representing the rebellious spirit supporting journalism regardless of presumed public opinion to the contrary. Journalism should be about the search for truth, and sometimes that pursuit leads to justice. Journalism is a mirror of our society: revealing our nation's greatness and flaws as well as our collective prejudices and assumptions that warrant social changes.
From one news junkie to another, thank you for viewing News Junkies Inc. and using our website. And from the heart, many thanks for supporting and donating to our cause!