In this “information age” we have access to up-to-the-minute news distributed via television, radio, websites and numerous social media outlets, but we also are confronted with the challenge of determining truth from misinformation.

Recently we have seen the spreading of misinformation by leaders claiming that the 2020 election was rigged, and that Donald Trump was the winner. There is no evidence that the election was not carried out fairly and accurately, and the news media who follow journalistic ethics have labelled this claim the “big lie.”

A U.S. senator recently made questionable statements that were challenged by a news reporter. In the August 19, 2021, Topeka Capital-Journal, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) was quoted by reporter Jason Tidd: “‘I’m against mandates,’ Marshall said last week during an interview with Newsmax. ‘I mean, really, no one has convinced me that masks really work, especially for people that have already had the vaccine or natural immunity. The masks might give a little bit of protection to my parents, but I just think that we’re kidding ourselves if we think kids wearing masks helps. It probably even makes it worse.’”

Tidd pointed out that Marshall is an obstetrician and gynecologist, but he is not a pediatrician or an epidemiologist. Tidd then quoted a Children’s Mercy Hospital infectious disease specialist who confirmed that children wearing masks helps to prevent COVID-19; he also cited an infectious disease specialist at University of Kansas, who referred to a Center for Disease Control report that supported children wearing masks in schools. Tidd also cited statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and from the Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, both supporting the mandate to require children wearing masks in schools.

Tidd then disputed Marshall’s sources and provided additional evidence from scientific sources that supported the use of masks in schools.

The Capital-Journal reporter presents an example of recognizing misinformation and locating sources that provide scientific evidence to dispute the misinformation.

Some people base their beliefs on unqualified statements from friends or family members or on Facebook posts, emails, or some other forms of social media that spread information that is not based on verifiable information. Sometimes a decision not to get vaccinated is a fear of the unknown and the information available to the person is not reliable information. Fear can be a factor that feeds a decision not to get vaccinated — a fear based on false information.

How do we identify incorrect or inaccurate information? One way is to assess the source — the qualifications of the individual, the organization’s purpose and reputation and the news source.

In assessing an individual making a statement, what is evidence that the person is knowledgeable? What knowledge and experience does the person have in the subject area being considered? What position does the person hold? If speaking about the pandemic, does this person have credentials in medicine or the healthcare field? Is the source speaking for a legitimate U.S. or state government agency? Is the source’s organization one that is unbiased or is it known to support certain points of view?

If the source of information is a newspaper, television or radio station, or electronic publication, is it known to support and disseminate a political viewpoint? Most news sources employ journalism professionals who are schooled in and adhere to standards for their profession. Local news sources — The Emporia Gazette and KVOE Radio — employ such professionals who seek to report news objectively, and articles or reports that express opinion are labeled so.

National news sources vary in their efforts to report news objectively. For example, the following news sources are generally considered unbiased: ABC, Associated Press, BBC (British Broadcasting), CBS, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, National Public Radio, NBC, News Nation, Newsy, Reuters, United Press International, USA Today, US News and World Report.

Leaning right or partisan right: Christianity Today, Fox News, National Review, New York Post, Newsmax, Wall Street Journal.

Leaning left or partisan left: The Atlantic, CNN, Huffington Post, MSNBC, NBC, New York Times, Public Broadcasting System, Washington Post.

Among those sources considered least trustworthy for news: National Enquirer, InfoWars, Natural.News, WorldTruth.TV.

The above list of news sources is not intended to be comprehensive and is based on both the authors’ knowledge and verified by “The Media Bias Chart” published by Ad Fontes Media, which is a researched assessment of print and electronic media accessible at https://www.adfontesmedia.com.

How can we recognize misinformation? We should engage in fact-checking by investigating credentials of the information source, whether a person, agency, or mass media; maintain a healthy skepticism; and tell people, especially those close to us, if they are spreading misinformation.

We elect our representatives at local, state, and national levels. We must monitor their statements. If they are spreading misinformation, they should be challenged when they spread misinformation. But to do so, we must be alert to those news sources that we can depend on to provide factual information — not misinformation.

(19) comments

Justice81

Anything said, written,repeated BY MOST REPUBLICANS is a Total Lie!

Elrod

Obviously you are part of the problem also because you believe what you wanna believe which is Half truths and exaggerations.The conservative news lies about the liberal politicians and they liberal news lies about the conservative politicians. I just hope someday the moderates that are in the middle on both parties are strong enough to take over how things are run in Washington. Most of you who comment Already too far left or right to change your mind. Like I said delusional.

Aim_High

I'm open to having my mind changed, but providing credible sources has not been a strong point among the anti-vaccine group. They believe "Americas Frontline Doctors" is a credible source, lol.

We all witnessed how the virus was kept under control when mask mandates were in place, and how the number of cases has exploded since mask mandates were removed... but ask a Republican if masks work.

Same thing with vaccines. We have plenty of evidence that the vaccines are working great at preventing hospitalization and death. 97.8% of covid hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated, but ask a Republican if the vaccine works. We are currently at 660,000 covid deaths in the US and daily death rates are on track to add another 100,000 deaths over the next 3 months. Will probably be over a million by the time the midterms come around.

Elrod

Excuse me, I will clarify myself, Fox News, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, they all stretch the truth to suit their beliefs and if you don’t believe that then you’re delusional.

Justice81

Amazing, you are including FOX! Wow! And, FOX is listed first. FOX is Criminal. None of the others you list are anywhere near FOX, the WORST. FOX is not even FOR AMERICA. FOX is pushing for TOTALITARIAN STATE! FOX is Traitorous! FOX SUPPORTS THE Traitors of January 6th!

Elrod

The one thing you can’t do is believe the press either side. Both sides are full of miss information.

bobinberea

To read through these comments is often like trying to swim in a swamp. I'll cite only two examples and then wade out of the swamp.

"The one thing you can’t do is believe the press either side. Both sides are full of miss information."

Really? Are you saying that no valid sources of information exist? No one is speaking the truth? There is only falsehood to be had from the news media? I refuse to accept that.

"Time magazine wrote a cover story on how the election was rigged: "The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.""

Really? Have you read the Time article you cite? It says the opposite of what you say it says. The title of the article indicates its central thesis: the election was "saved," not rigged. It was accomplished successfully, just the way elections are supposed to work in a democracy. From the article itself, toward the end: "Democracy won in the end. The will of the people prevailed."

Justice81

Yes, Most of the comments lumping FOX in with the others is trying to make FOX look good. I believe those people doing that are just trying to make FOX look good!

Justice81

Many people I know and have overheard, and comments....are Right Up There with FOX!

Fremonster

I"m glad to see PBS is recognized as a trustworthy source (since they weren't mentioned). We can most all agree on them, I hope. They and National Public Radio don't seem to sensationalize the message, let alone "just make it up." They are too mild for some, no doubt, but the truth is all I'm after.

Fremonster

It seems that everyone loves "their own truth" but the rest of us have to live in the real world. How can they not be paranoid when the "whole world" seems to be lining up against them. The argument seems to center around "I know my rights. I won't do it, and you can't make me". Maybe not, but "your rights", just as reproductive rights in Texas, and voting rights in most any state can be severely curtailed. Their little world is shrinking.

MWS

This article was an example of it's title. It is huge misinformation. The 2020 election was fair? Time magazine wrote a cover story on how the election was rigged: "The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election." The evidence coming out of AZ and GA is documenting the fraud. Biden, Fauci, CDC, NIH, the military, Congress, Twitter, Teacher's unions, BLM, Antifa, MSNBC, CNN, DNC, Google, Facebook are excellent examples of chronic misinformation. Lying is not an art form. The only people who do not see it are people who like it.

Justice81

THIS ARTICLE IS RIGHT ON!

Rationa1

MWS, this isn't an article. It's an opinion column. That we have readers who no longer understand the difference supports the column's main points.

Smkiefer

Millions of Tax dollars spent over a four year period trying to impeach a sitting president over Russian Collusion ALL based on Misinformation spewed from the same mouths telling me the facts on Covid!!!!!!!!!! FACT!!!!!!!!!!

Justice81

THERE WAS NO MISINFORMATION. IT WAS ALL TRUE. YOU ARE REPEATING LIES!

MWS

The fake dossier was not misinformation? Unreal.

bobinberea

Another well-informed, thoughtful piece by Grover and Calvert. Well done, gentlemen.

Aim_High

All these doctors, nurses, immunologists, microbiologists, and epidemiologists keep saying that masks are effective and to get vaccinated. Every US President, most members of congress, our military (soon), and the vast majority of college educated workers are all vaccinated, but all these people on Facebook I went to high school with who barely passed science class still say covid isn't dangerous. I don't know who to believe anymore.

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