How to read the news: a beginners guide for Generation Y and the "Millennials"

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news-05Two tragic events this year have brought to the fore the fact that my generation and the generation following (Gen Y and the so called a i generation or the millennials). I am often dismayed at the inability of my peers to be able to evaluate and reconcile news stories, rather than just take every word as fact.

Often the hardest realisation that news junkies such as myself come to is that the news is never just the facts. There is always some 'editorial' or opinion included. It might not be out and out bias but when you have x number of words or x number of column inches, x number of second of video or sound grab to work with inevitably some one has to make a call to cut something out. Therefore you receive edited facts.

Another key point that we, as news readers, have to be aware of is the reliability of the source. Not just the actual masthead (publisher) but the source of the information. Is it a 'wire' report coming in from a syndicated journalist on the ground reported by every single outlet or is it a one to one connection, the the story written or presented by some one on the scene.

Further to the source is the publisher. We all know there are differing degrees of bias or agendas being pushed by today's publishers whether newspapers, radio, or individual bloggers. Knowing the inbuilt bias of the publisher can also alter the lens in which we take in the news.

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Australian news and analysis blog Crikey published the list of Australia's most trusted news sources HERE from 2013.  Interesting that the national broadcaster here ranked the top. One could say they are not trying to sell advertising or appeal to a 'market segment' they are freer to report the news, also their reporters are in more locations. There is of course the usual calls of bias against the public broadcaster. Those calls of bias are usually calling the ABC 'left' leaning. However the trust worthy poll linked above does not seem to support that.

Top 5 tips when reading or taking the news in:

1. who wrote it (which journalist)

2. Who published it ( which masthead)

3. Who is the intended audience - is the producer writing for a 'market' or stating fact

4. Who benefits from the story

5. Are other reporters reporting the same thing with different sources?