Sources, Credibility, and Social Media

The birth and evolution of the world-wide web has changed how get our news.  Gone are the days when people would tune into the CBS Evening News and get the news from Walter Cronkite, who was considered “the man Americans most trusted” (Biography, 2015).

Today news papers and magazines are available on-line as well as print and social media users often get their news from the social media sites they frequent.   Anyone with a computer, internet connection, a little bit of knowledge on how to create website or blog, and an opinion can create content for others to see on the world-wide web. Where once you could be confident that the news you were watching on television of reading in the paper had been vetted as being factual and true, today you must be a knowledgeable and savvy consumer of information.  In short, you need to evaluate the credibility of what you’re reading on the www.

For this assignment, I chose an article from the Huffington Post news website, “Democrats Take Advantage of The GOP’s Epic Month of Dysfunction,” written by Michael McAuliffe.  The article contends that Republicans in the House and Senate through a number of actions and inactions been “ineffectual” and “incapable of doing the people’s business” (McAuliffe, 2015).  The authors point to a threat to shut down the government, tying an amendment to continue to fly the Confederate flag over federal cemeteries to a bill which would fund the Interior Department, and bickering between Republicans Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell.

To evaluate this article, I looked at the credibility of the organization, the author, and whether or not the article cited current sources.

The Organization
The Huffington Post is an on-line new source featuring sections often found in print newspapers – Front Page, News, Politics, Entertainment, etc.  While Huffington Post has its own reporters, it also gathers news from a number of sources.  There is not a print version of The Huffington Post.  A google search asking “news source + huffington post” brought up an article in the web magazine Slate which reports that The Huffington Post has been honored with a Pulitzer Prize for adhering “to the highest journalistic principles” (Oremes, 2015).

The Author
Author Michael McAuliffe is a reporter for the Huffington Post, covering politics and Congress.  He has also covered Washington for The New York Daily News and was a national editor for ABCnews.com.  He graduated from Brooklyn College.  As a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and

The Sources
While the article goes not has a list of works cited, it does include current links to sources used for the article.  These sources include other articles featured in the Huffington Post, the Atlantic, and Fox News.

After evaluating the organization, the author and the sources I come to the conclusion that all are credible, but with a liberal bias.  This, as Virginia Montecino points out, “is not necessarily bad” (Montecino, 1998).  It just means that the reader should be aware that there is a bias.

Blogs run the gamut from opinion, editorial and special interest.  They do not, according to Kovach & Rosenstiel, “fall squarely into any one model.”   News sites often feature blogs which “operate by the same journalistic norms” as content written by the sites’ journalists (Kovach & Rosenstiel).  Huffington Post features blogs which are editorial in nature.  For example, Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently wrote a blog entitled “The Look of Silence: Finding our Humanity in the Face of Genocide.”  While Tutu or other bloggers may be qualified to write on a subject, I would view blogs as an editorial or opinion rather than a fact-based news report.

Social media has had a huge impact on the spreading and receiving of information.  According to a Pew Research report, about half of the people who use Facebook and Twitter get their news through those social media sites.  In addition, social media users tend to use their mobile devices, such as a smart phone, rather than a computer (Holcomb, 2013).  News sources such as CNN and NBC News can be found on both Facebook and Twitter.  Social media users share news by linking articles to posts on their own Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.  Social media has made the receiving of news very interactive.

References
Holcomb, J. (November 14, 2013). News Use Across Social Media Platforms. In Pew Research Center. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from http://www.journalism.org/2013/11/14/news-use-across-social-media-platforms

McAuliffe M & Conetta, C. (August 1, 2015). Democrats Take Advantage Of The GOP’s Epic Month Of Dysfunction. In Huffington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democrats-gop-dysfunction-congress_55bb9bf0e4b0d4f33a0289e9?utm_hp_ref=politics.

Montecino, V. (1998, August 1). Criteria to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources . Retrieved July 21, 2015, from Mason GMU: http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

Oremes, W. (April 18, 2012). Is the Huffington Post a Newspaper?. In Slate. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/04/the_huffington_post_won_a_pulitzer_does_that_mean_it_s_a_newspaper_.html.

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload. New York: Bloomsbury, USA.

Walter Cronkite. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 03:47, Aug 01, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/walter-cronkite-9262057.

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