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Stay skeptical

There is a ton of news happening all over the world right now (not that there isn't always some news, but "big news") and it's important to stay skeptical.

Screen caps can be faked. Information can be wildly misconstrued and "they"(shitty media sites, trolls, politicians, etc.) are trying to drive traffic, clicks and shares regardless of what is true.

Unfocused outrage generates noise. Confirmation bias for untrue information makes your side(if you have a side) look foolish. 

Fortunately, there is a free handbook that can teach you to become a smarter news analyst. It's a good resource, and loaded with info.

However, here's a quick list of a few things to cut through the clutter.

1. Follow good journalists on twitter

A handful of good journalists are better than browsing news aggregators for hours. A good way to find people to follow is by clicking or looking up the names of writers in publications you already read and enjoy. Also follow a few of the folks they follow- journalists tend to talk to one another.

2. Video > picture > text

Video content is much harder to fake than a photo. Text is very easy to falsify. Video can still be taken out of context, so make sure you can determine specific details in the footage that corroborate claims to authenticity.

3. Be open to possibilities

As often as things turn out to be false, sometimes something extraordinary happens. However, it's better to file away unconfirmed information as conjecture rather than to hit the reshare button and make more noise.

4. It's not good vs. evil

Every force or side in a story thinks that they are the hero. Hamas believes they are doing the right thing in Gaza against Israel. The police in Ferguson, Missouri believe they are doing the right thing there.

There are bad people. They may do hateful things, but try to consider all sides and motivations.