Tips to Enhance Your News-gathering Routine and Become a Better Citizen of Information

November 5, 2020

Recently, the University of Minnesota Libraries hosted a roundtable discussion on how journalists are approaching news reporting in 2020, as well as how we all can be better citizens of information.

Star Tribune reporter Kelly Smith and Gayle Golden, a senior lecturer in CLA on the Twin Cities campus, discussed the current state and latest trends in the news industry, media ethics, and journalistic practices.

Here are a few pertinent takeaways as they relate to our work as communicators:

  • While the phenomenon of “information overload” isn't new, social media can exacerbate it. The practice of scrolling Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day leads people to not know whom (or what) to trust.
  • The panelists suggest that instead of scrolling, we find a personal news routine to receive whatever is the most important and relevant for us that day.
  • Journalists are concerned that present-day news consumers merely scan headlines of daily email newsletters without clicking on or reading the full story. This practice isn’t very educational, as a headline doesn't provide the full context of a story.
  • Whether or not you're consuming journalism every day, you’re likely online or on social media. Smith reminds all news consumers to vet information before sharing it; otherwise, you could be contributing to misinformation (references this story).

Lindsay Matts-Benson, an instructional designer with U of M Libraries, added strategies for anyone to become a more effective consumer of information. Some tips:

  1. Find trusted sources of information, but also diversify your sources and make it a holistic mix (both local and national sources). Know the reputation of those sources.
  2. Check for accuracy, and trace information to the original source. Consider investigating the author. If it’s from an anonymous source, that could be a red flag. Ask yourself, “Why was this written in the first place?”
  3. Consider using quotation marks around a word or phrase to further refine your search techniques.
  4. Consider doing a reverse image search to verify images are authentic.
  5. And ultimately, be responsible when sharing any information. Consider the emotional impact.

To watch the entire conversation, you can view it here.