I recently attended an event at my local library entitled, “Escape Fake News.”
I know from my conversations with clients, colleagues and friends that most everyone feels overwhelmed to make sense of the news. Here is the great reality: we aren’t powerless! There are some straightforward tools we can use to determine the validity of what we are seeing. It might take a little practice, but the object is to be able to scan an article, use the ESCAPE method, and have a much stronger filter for determining what you will take in.
Below is a recap of the presentation. Please note that I did not write this but am using my notes from the presentation by the Newseum*.
E = Evidence: Who are the key people, what are the data and images in the story?
Do the facts stand up to scrutiny?
S = Source: Who has touched the story? Authors, publishers, funders, aggregators, social media users can all contribute to the spin of a story. Who made this and can I trust them?
C = Context: Is this the whole story or are there other current events, cultural trends, political goals, or financial pressures around the story? What is the big picture?
A = Audience: Are there appeals to specific groups or types of people through image choices, presentation techniques, language, and content? Who is the intended audience?
P = Purpose: Look for clues in the publisher’s mission and their standard audience, persuasive language or images, moneymaking tactics, stated or unstated agendas, and calls to action. Why was this made?
E = Execution: How does the presentation of the material affect the impact? Look at style, grammar, tone, image choices, placement and layout. How is the information presented?
An example to help you put the above into practice: During the 2016 election there were social media posts that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, then another that he had endorsed Hillary Clinton. The story for Trump was attributed to WTOE 5 News and KYPO 4 News for Clinton.
A helpful tip the presenter gave us (that seems so logical but I had not considered before) is to go immediately to the known and reputable source for that subject. Using the Pope Francis example above: the Vatican has a website and the Pope tweets. IF he were to endorse a political candidate one of these outlets would be announcing the news.
I hope you find this helpful. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Thanks for being here.
*Washington, D.C’s Newseum, is considered one of the most interactive museums in the world. Its mission is to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. Visitors experience the story of news, the role of a free press in major events in history, and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — apply to their lives.