Photo by Megan Bender.

Consuming news safely


Sorting through the mainstream, and now local media

When you turn on your local news TV station, you expect a solid mix of local and national news, and a variety of messages between stations.

The news coverage from one area to the next will differ based on location.

What you don’t expect is to be able to watch hundreds of news anchors, ironically reading the same script, on hundreds of different channels, about the importance of varied news sources and supported communities, like the companies owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Recognizing and understanding how to sort through the news, and have a well-rounded idea of what is happening, is important to processing the information you consume. Here are two important parts of journalism and fake news you should understand when consuming information.

Understanding journalism objectivity

Before diving into how to fact check and navigate the media, it is important to understand that objective journalism is incredibly hard, if not impossible, to achieve.

People are inherently biased and influenced by the world around them. Journalists do their best, however, to inform the public, simply for the sake of the public.

However, it is equally as important to understand that when it comes specifically to the news facet of journalism, journalists study, and are taught, to present the facts of a story from either side.

This does not mean journalists agree with the information they have been given, but instead are presenting this information to the reader or viewer with as much objectivity as they can manage.

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics is one of the most prominent professional ethics guidelines journalists follow, and sets the tone for what real journalism is supposed to be. These ethical principles exist to promote clear and concise reporting with four main facets: to seek the truth and report it, act independently, minimize harm and be accountable and transparent.

For example, mainstream media outlets being owned by giant companies allows an argument to be made that these outlets are not independent, though they should work this way.

Consider the case of Sinclair pushing right-based opinions and scripts to their newscasters across multiple local news stations. Sinclair also released a video in an attempted act of transparency, trying to inform the public why this script was given out. Deadspin, who released the compiled video footage of news anchors reading from their script, also provides this video in order to provide more detail to their story. This style of reporting leans toward writer bias, and is a little less formal than other outlets.

In order to rise above the many messages media on all formats is designed to present to you, start with skepticism, and then some careful consideration. Make sure you’re digesting factual information, as opposed to fake news or misinformation.

There are websites that specifically try to sort through political fact and fiction like the website Politifact aims to provide fact-checking based journalism with principles based on “independence, transparency and fairness through reporting and clear writing.”

Fake news in itself could be considered an oxymoron. News must be factual to be news. However, as the word of the year, and the biggest threat to our democracy today, knowing when you’re being fooled is vital.

Skepticism and careful consideration

As declared watchdogs of those in power, and also those who abuse their power, journalism is easily considered to be shady. The idea that journalists are out to dig up dirt and expose powerful or public figures for joy is an easy mistaken thought process to fall into.

When you hear something on the news you find to be negative or shocking, understand there are news determinants that allow journalists to consider what is noteworthy and important for the general public to know.

We take it upon ourselves as journalists to study these determinants seriously and with practiced objectivity. Knowing trust in the media is at an all time low, we encourage you to refer to other news sources when this happens.

Use your skepticism of what you’ve heard reported and consider other articles or broadcasts on the same subject. Different reporting might present different facts. Even after studying a variety of sources, you as a reader or viewer may only have a small piece of the picture still. We as journalists have also considered multiple sources before presenting information so we are not failing our public by reporting on rumors or false information.

Some websites exist to make this easier for you, such as Media Bias/Fact Check. This website lists specific sites and news sources that are either politically left-biased, centralized, right-biased or left-center and right-center-biased. You can find a list of questionable sources here as well. If you see a source on this list, they may not be the most trustworthy news outlet to refer to.

Politifact, an outlet centered around fact checking, provides a truth-o-meter that follows the specific decisions and promises of politicians by following their actions and reporting back to inform the public whether their actions align with their words.

The sources provided here are merely suggestions and are not an end all to fact-checking sources.

Practicing the ability to step outside your own bias and recognize that of some media outlets to compare and contrast information is important to democracy.

Always double check where your information is coming from and who might be influencing the message.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program