Just The Facts Please
Published: July 16, 2012
We are a society in a constant state of campaigning with a torrent of information, websites, TV news and blogs drenching the American public with headlines, commentaries, talking heads, and reports from the road on campaign trails that never ends.
It is easier for politicians, lobbyists, campaign managers, and the talking heads who populate the major cable news networks to spew it, dish it, and spin it than it is for the average person to digest it all. Headlines and sound bites may be all that most people rely on when it comes to saying informed, and for those that read deeper the process becomes even more muddled.
The constant state of campaigning has pushed everyone towards seeking that one-liner, that attention grabber, that will rise to the surface and get wider media attention. Go viral….and sometimes that means twisting or bending the truth.
With politicos delivering a steady stream of comments, and politicians always pushing the envelope between fantasy and reality, some websites have begun earning a lot of attention with fact checking. PolitiFact.org is one entity that has teamed up with the NJ Star Ledger to provide a truth-o-meter regarding statements coming out of Trenton. They cover statements made on national issues, as well as statements covering a handful of states where local news, like The Star Ledger, have become participants.
FactCheck.org is another website with a main focus on issues of national concern, which is revolving heavily now around the two declared presidential candidates - Obama and Romney. They also have published a sister web called FlackCheck.org, which offers a respite from the serious nature of most topics and seeks to debunk false political advertising, poke fun at extreme language, and hold the media accountable for their reporting on political campaigns.
Outside the political realm, and focused on more pedestrian concerns between what’s real and what’s a hoax, the website Snopes.com can prove very useful. That Nigerian general who needs you help….probably a hoax. The email you should share concerning the American soldier who died and left his dog behind with a mysterious letter — nice story, but a hoax. Protect all your Facebook posts with a copyright notice — no protection, just a hoax.
It’s understandable how the Nigerian general might see a profit in scamming you out of some money, but many other email hoaxes are usually just based on a weird sense of humor.
Snopes.com is a good website to visit if you get an email that sounds suspicious, weird, or is asking for donations to something you never heard of before.
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