We the Media

Facilitated by Allan Izaguirre

The introduction chapter illuminates the evolution of how information travels. It discusses early news medias and how the internet changed how the game was played. That chapter sets the floor for the question of, what is trustworthy nowadays? Discussed in chapter 9.

Something that we all need to watch out for is the copy and pasting problem when someone quotes something. For example, if I take my Mathematics textbook and only quote a part of my equation like “Area of a circle is equal to pi” without mentioning the rest of that equation, this will end up in a catastrophe of an answer. Some people do this on purpose to stir up some controversy. An example of this in its purest form is this video of Bernie Sanders singing Power by Kanye West.

Of course you should not quote him on this, even though he said all those words, this video has purposefully left out other important things he said.

When you think of primary sourced evidence, one of the first things you might think of is witnessing an event with your own eyes. To an extent we can assume photos and videos also fall under this, primary evidence category. But can we really trust all that we see? Gillmor brings to light the evil that has sourced from the developing technology around us. “…simple cropping can remove someone who was in the original picture or it can highlight an important element in the image.” A new concern has risen due to our advancement in motion editing. With what started as a way to place celebrities’ faces into pornography, has now turned into a way to put words into someone else’s mouth.  Deepfakes analyze people facial gestures and accommodate them for others to create realistic videos. Here’s a quick reality check.

In the same way as someone can be a victim of this. A public figure can do something ridiculous and say, “Oh what, really?? There’s a video of me doing that? That has to be a deepfake.” When in fact it was them.

Gillmor then proceeds to question whether the person behind a publishing is something important to know. For example, if you read an Onion article and you were given no indication that it was published by The Onion, would you feel bamboozled for falling for such thing. But having anonymity has its benefits, people who would normally not mention certain things feel free saying them. And as seen with the deepfakes public figures can slip out of line and say something that they wouldn’t normally say and blame it on a hacker.

Gillmor mentions the pain of trolls bombarding journalistic sites. Some can guide viewers out of context and plainly just waste peoples time. In a similar way to you watching the class videos for Tuesday on YouTube and suddenly you are lured into a convincing title under your recommend list such as, “I was brushing my teeth, YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT”. Then three minute into viewing you realize that they have not mentioned anything about brushing their teeth. Those posters that are there just so that you can lose minutes off your valuable day, or as Gillmor calls them “a time thief”. I recently encountered a commentor on Instagram who’s username was “dontclickhear73″ and my instinct as a flawed human was to click on it, then on their profile their description states ” DON’T READ MY BIO”, the bio instructs you to not click on the panda, the image of the panda has tagged a user who’s name is “dontclickhere37”. There I go clicking away, then that user’s Biography says “DON’T CHECK WHO I FOLLOW” and at the end of this whole journey I just end up on a useless sponsoring page. In this case it was inevitable, I could have just followed instructions. There are cases where a troll will comment on a controversial topic and you as a defender of your beliefs will comment back and create this debate that was just there to get you and others to comment on an article which pays authors for the amount of comments their articles gets. Trolls whole purpose is to “provoke others with the intention of wasting their time and energy.” they are tough to avoid and always waiting for you to give them a shot at wasting your time.

Now comes the things harder to realize, these are the bias spins that individuals place on information to push their personal agendas. Spins can sometimes even be harmless and just something a journalist did without realizing. Others can influence masses. I would like you to check out this website, https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news, they separate articles based on political stance upon the same event. When reading from a new source it is important to keep in mind that the authors intentions might go beyond informing you.

Now here are the real heroes of the internet, you and I. Do not trust everything you see and read online. Read other people’s comments. Run a quick fact check on their information. Don’t believe the “Corona virus cure” article, you can look up other sources and verify the validity of their argument. In addition to this there are multiple websites designated to fact checking, here is a link to Michael A. Caulfield book page on these sites, https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/chapter/fact-checking-sites/ . In fact his whole book is worth noting as a guide to fact checking an unchecked source. https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/

Gillmor gives us these rules which have worked for him:

  1. Do not quote/trust anonymous postings.
  2. Select sources you trust information from.
  3.  Use tools like the website I linked to find bias or read new information cautiously.
  4. Fact check their ass.