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Media Watchdogs – 12 ways to check if your news sources are lying to you


 (Photo: Flickr)

With the mainstream media in apparent terminal meltdown and the nascent new media machine still trying to find its feet, it’s getting hard to know who to trust when it comes to obtaining the facts surrounding the current news stories. Only a couple of days ago someone asked me who they could trust in terms of unbiased reporting, and I had to confess I was stumped.

So it occurred to me that it might be useful to provide a short list of resources you can use in order to cross-check and reference topical news stories from around the world, so as to try and get a picture of what’s truth and what’s agenda driven reporting. Even with this list, you’ll have to educate your brain to discriminate between the lines, but it may help. Good luck and remember one thing – at the end of the day we’re all just puppets of that big ole PR machine in the sky. 

Oh and if you have any other authoritative sources to add, please comment with them.

  • Media Lens. UK based media watchdog checking on media bias. Sporadic but important although the focus seems to be mostly skewed in favour of foreign affairs reporting. Excellent resource though nevertheless.
  • Sourcewatch. We’ve mentioned them before, but worth another look. A wiki format publicly editable encyclopedia of agenda agents affecting the news. Includes people, organisations and govt and activist groups shaping what we read, see and hear. Gold star.
  • News Sniffer. Online service monitoring websites for stories which are altered subsequent to publication. Focusing on BBC and other UK sites. New but useful.
  • Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. Veteran US media watchdog site, active, dedicated, opinionated and self funded.
  • US political fact checking service which monitors the accuracy of statements by politicians and pundits to unveil inaccuracy, deception or ignorance. Valuable.
  • News Trust. A laudable effort to allow for community monitoring and rating of topical news stories du jour. Let down a little by its search for commercial sponsorships and licensing funding.
  • FairSpin. Another community rated news filter, which aims to unmask bias and agenda in news reporting from the mainstream media. A easy to use interface and integration with Facebook and Twitter make this a useful tool in the search for truth (whatever that is!)
  • PR Run by the Center for Media and Democracy, this veteran service keeps tabs on those peddlers of agenda, the PR agencies. One for astroturfing hunters everywhere.
  • Media Monitors Network. Global media monitoring service which offers a refreshingly international viewpoint on ‘hot topics’.
  • Skewz. New site pushes the US polarized political debate front and center by allowing visitors to tag stories in a graphical ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ manner. The votes offer an interesting overview of the news, but the presentation lends itself to an entertainment format rather than more factual knowledge.
  • SpinSpotter. Another one we’ve mentioned before, this new service puts the spin watch in the hands of the web browsing public. If you spot something biased, just mark it with the browser bookmarklet and add your viewpoint for others to read.
  • Stinky The name says it all really. Aims to reveal inaccuracies and bad factual reporting in the mainstream press. Media ethics champions rampant!

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