Event planned to discuss legitimacy of news sources

The abundance of media outlets makes it difficult for consumers to decide which one is credible.  (Courtesy of Infowars)

Alex Salucco
Connector Editor

Over the past few months, portions of the media have been scrutinized and their credibility has been questioned. With the term “fake news” being used frequently, consumers are left with a dilemma: which source should I trust?

Omicron Delta Kappa will look to help people understand the media consumer relationship by presenting Beyond Headlines & Memes on March 29 in Maloney Hall at 6:30 p.m. Among the panel is Dr. Jonathan Silverman, Dr. Jenifer Whitten-Woodring and journalism student Adeja Crearer. English major Abby Crossley will play a moderating role.

With an endless amount of information in the palm their hands, consumers tend to rely on accessibility and personal beliefs to choose their sources. Crossley said she believes this is a problem and that the panel will offer solutions from multiple angles.

“The perspective from Dr. Silverman and Adeja [Crearer] will speak to why things get covered in the media how we cover them,” she said.

With a focus in international political communication, Whitten-Woodring’s experience will help fill in the gaps and provide insight to why credible sources are vital in the political realm.

Due to the rapid change of media, she said she believes that determining credible sources is not obvious but, with proper research, can be done effectively.

“To get the best information you cannot rely on any one source,” she said. “You have to go to different sources and you should probably look at sources that don’t reflect your point of view.”

Whitten-Woodring primarily deals with cases overseas. But with recent scrutiny of the media on United States soil, she has taken an eye to what President Donald Trump is saying about fake news.

“What I am seeing right now is that Donald Trump is using tactics with the media that is very similar to not democratic countries,” she said. “I’m starting to look more at what is going on in the [United States].”
Crearer said she views it similarly and uses her experience at the inauguration to help understand why there is a heightened mistrust of the media.

While attending the inauguration in January, Crearer said she witnessed firsthand the importance of credible sources and the effects they can have on consumers.

“I got a lot of questions from home saying, ‘Are there really riots there? We heard the whole city was on fire, how does it actually look?’ and I remember explaining to them I don’t feel unsafe,” she said.
She said that the burning of the Starbucks and other acts of violence were minor things that happened in a section of a big city. Crearer said she credits the questions she received to a 24-hour news cycle.

“I think is it important to look at how the media portrays things,” she said. “Whether or not the way [the media] portrays things is wrong or right, it is us as consumers that have to determine whether the way we interpret the media is right or wrong.”

The media has taken a lot of backlash recently. Headlines and memes do not tell the whole story, their only purpose is to grab the reader with a phrase tailored to their liking.

“It is similar to books,” Crearer said. “Have you ever taken a book and read it first page to last page and you go back and look at it and say why is it even titled that? It is just marketing and it is all about the consumer. What do they want to see? What will grab them?”

But deciphering these sources can be difficult, says Whitten-Woodring, especially when news sources are publishing false information.

“How do we fact check news sources?” she said. “The only way to really do that is to look at different types of news sources. Not just the ones that you are comfortable with, but the ones that do not reflect your own opinions.”

I am a proud graduate of Beverly High School and a senior at UMass Lowell majoring in English and minoring in digital media. In addition to being a staff writer and the Managing Editor for The Connector, I am also the Sports Director at the college's radio station, WUML. If you want to talk to me directly about any of my works, feel free to email me at Alexander_Salucco@student.uml.edu. Catch me every UMass Lowell Hokcey home game on 91.5 fm.

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