Who are your sources of news online? How well do you know them? How reliable and credible are they?
These are the questions that MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm, attempted to answer during the webinar titled “Scrutinizing digital sources: How to improve your information diet” – a special session of MovePH’s fact-checking webinar series held on Friday, March 19.
Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), shared 3 ways that readers can improve their own information diet and contribute to the better health of online conversations.
In order to better understand the need to improve the way we consume information, De Jesus said you should start with asking yourself the following questions: What motivates you as a netizen? What is the value that drives your digital activities? What are your regular go-to sources or places? Do these include periodicals, newspapers, maybe some bloggers? How useful have these sources been for you?
“Your use of cyberspace is, after all, your own business. There is nothing that I can present to you – there is nothing anybody can do about it, unless you yourself own that responsibility and therefore understanding also what you are doing with this wonderful, grand power that has been made possible by our technological advancement in communications,” De Jesus added.
De Jesus said the most common mistakes in reporting news are the lack of providing context and background information, settling with he-said-she-said reporting, and the frequent publication of public relations materials from celebrities and politicians.
Though it’s inevitable for news organizations to make mistakes from time to time, what makes a media outfit credible is its willingness to correct its mistakes through a proper corrections policy program.
Lastly, De Jesus said it’s helpful to remember the fundamental principles of human communication. These are truth, freedom, justice or fairness, humaneness, and stewardship.
This means that it’s better to go to sources that are committed to publishing accurate and contextual reports, do not give in to external pressures in storytelling, give equal treatment of all sides while recognizing where the truth lies, do not cause harm, and preserve the good of the practice.