With the advent of on-line social media, articles compete for our click. The desire for ad revenue garnered by the views, hits, and clicks upon the article and its corresponding advertisements dictates the content. Much of what passes as journalism is simply an enticement for your click rather than your mind. Headlines scream for your attention. Questions beg your consideration, but only long enough to acquire the requisite click.
Upon clicking you may find a list, a series of pictures, a short video, or what barely passes for a short article. These get liked, tagged, shared, and tweeted ad nauseam. Seldom do the articles get judged, much less researched. In an effort to promote journalistic integrity, I’ve provided a list of ways to judge an article before liking, sharing, or tweeting. For the purposes of this article, I am limiting the subject to news articles rather than those deemed entertainment.
- Read the entire article. If its contents are valuable enough to like or share, they were first worth reading.
- Don’t get fooled by headlines. Did the article live up to its headline? Many times the headlines are dishonest eye catching advertisements. If we are not careful, we will believe the headline regardless of the contents of the article and share it on the merit of the headline alone. If the headline reads Science Proves Cats Love Swimming and the article is of a story of one cat owned by one scientist who likes to swim in the pool it did not pass this test. Most articles can be disregarded by this one test.
- Did the article prove its thesis? A thesis is the main point the article is designed to convey. Is the author telling you what to believe about a social issue, or is the author providing plenty of supporting details so that you have all the information necessary to decide if his opinion is merited? Just because you already agree with the premise does not mean that the writer provided sufficient supporting evidence.