In this new age of fake news stories, Internet hoaxes and new political administrations that promote their “alternative facts”, where can we find the truth, real truth, and real facts?
Many people seem confused and anxious. Many people are confused and worried. News reports from the BBC, the New York Times, and Money magazine show a marked increase in sales of dystopian novels like 1984 by George Orwell. After Meryl Steep’s antiTrump and projournalism speech at January’s Golden Globe Awards, donations were raised for the Committee to Protect Journalists. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, subscriptions to the NY Times and other publications have increased dramatically since Donald Trump’s election.
I have been listening to a lot of well-educated friends who wonder if their reading habits lead them towards facts or fiction. “Hey man. “Have a question for your on this fake news thing,” wrote a friend from high school. “What advice would you give and what do you think is the best way to find truth in today’s media?
A key question for any publication is: Will a news outlet investigate a complaint if a reporter misrepresents facts and publish corrections? Is the publication bound by a code of ethics? Is the publication a subscriber to and an endorser of the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics. If a reporter or editor is found to be a blatant, serial plagiarizer or fabulist, will they be fired from the news organization? Although some criticize mainstream media outlets, there are top outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times that have fired journalists for ethics violations. This is remarkable considering that celebrities, politicians, and other media realms (other than news… like Hollywood films “based upon a true story”) can spread lies with impunity.
Another friend wrote, “Trump’s attacks against the free media have me scared and I want support the media somehow.” However, I am conscious of my liberal biases and would welcome another point of view so long as it doesn’t contradict ‘alternative facts’. Are there any suggestions for publications I should subscribe to? I have already subscribed to the [Washington] Post and the [New York] Times.
These questions are encouraging. These questions are a great opportunity to improve your reading and learning skills. The Poynter Institute is an intelligent non-profit based in St. Petersburg, Fla. It has an ownership stake in the Tampa Bay Times. They provide research, training, and educational resources about journalism. There are many excellent online modules that can help citizens improve their news media literacy.
Citizens should support local and regional publications that adhere to ethical journalism standards. They also need to cover local government entities in the post-post truth era. This means that I read and sometimes write for the Great Neck News, as well as the chain of local newspapers it is part of. Newsday is the largest newspaper that covers Long Island. I plan to subscribe this year. I urge all citizens to subscribe to their local papers. These newspapers have journalists who go to city hall meetings, school board meetings, and police precincts. They report on your tax dollars, your constitutional rights, and serve as watchdogs on how well you are being served by your elected officials.
Realizing that there are millions more people wondering where they should spend their subscription money and what to read, here are my top 10 largest journalistic brands. These are the places I believe you will find most authentic, reported facts.
1. The New York Times
According to me, this newspaper is the most influential in the U.S. The newspaper’s editorial page and news coverage reflect a progressive, left-leaning view of the world. The NYT adheres to the ethical standards of reporting as well as the classic elements that make up American journalism. This is what allows the NYT to remain the most influential news organization in America. It is a leader for business, politics, and culture coverage. *
2. The Wall Street Journal
The largest U.S. newspaper by circulation, the HTMLJ was founded as a business newspaper. It also pioneered new forms of feature writing in American journalism, such as its unusual middle column called the “Ahed” or its longer, more in-depth reports known “leaders”. The WSJ changed its focus to include more business news and general news after Rupert Murdoch bought the company in 2007. The HTMLJ remains the brand X of daily business publications around the globe. The editorial page of the WSJ is an exemplar of American free-market conservatism. It uses the motto “Free markets, free people.” The WSJ editorial is a must-read page for Republicans in Washington. It features columns written by former Republican speechwriters and strategists, such as Peggy Noonan, Bill McGurn, and Karl Rove. Left-leaning readers shouldn’t dismiss the edit page because they disagree with its positions. It has been awarded several Pulitzer Prizes in editorials and columns with a clear thesis supported by bold arguments and fact-based reporting. *
3. The Washington Post
Under the new ownership by Jeff Bezos, the newspaper that brought down President Richard Nixon through its coverage of the Watergate scandal in early 1970s still maintains its intellectually strong tradition. For decades, the Post was part of the three major national newspapers – a peer to the NYT, WJ – for its ability to win Pulitzer Prizes, hire the most talented reporters, and produce big scoops. The Post has the best-informed and digital strategies to increase readership . With Bezos’ support, the post has been hiring talented reporters. The NYT as well as the WSJ have been reducing their reporting staff in recent months. While most people believe the Post editorial pages leans left, is more centre-left than that of the NYT. *
The BBC has been the global standard bearer of excellence in TV journalism and broadcast radio. It would be great if U.S. cable news channels could follow BBC’s instructions. While PBS has some excellent entertainment, news, and documentary programs, it often seems that its news programs lack the creativity of the BBC. NPR’s journalism is excellent, but the bulk of its news coverage seems to be from re-reporting from the New York Times or the Associated Press. The American public considers NPR more left-leaning that the BBC.
5. The Economist
The Economist magazine, another British export, is staffed by excellent economists and journalists, who provide a rigorous, factual account of what’s going on around the world every week. The does not publish the names of its writers, so it is impossible to know who wrote that piece.
6. The New Yorker
Each week, this American treasure publishes high-quality narrative nonfiction pieces by top writers and journalists in a magazine and on various other platforms. The New is expanding its reach on the internet, providing content previously only available to its print subscribers. Each week, the magazine publishes a piece fiction (identifies it as such). It can take months to write, fact check, and report on long-form reports about politics, culture, and business. You won’t find this kind of deep analysis and reporting anywhere else. The narrative structures and techniques used by the writers make for an enjoyable read. The New Yorker offers a progressive view of world affairs, much like the Times. Conservative readers should be aware of this but it shouldn’t detract them from enjoying some the most important reporting and writing taking place in the world. *
7. Wire Services: The Associated Press. Reuters. Bloomberg News
These wire services are not available for subscription. These organizations can still provide factual reports. They are the backbone of news and information about politics and economy. Their member organizations who publish their reports also benefit from this reporting. These organizations can be followed on social media. You can also follow reporters from these organizations who cover topics that interest you. You can also use these wire services’ mobile apps and web sites to keep up with the latest news. *
8. Foreign Affairs
The Council on Foreign Relations publishes this bi-monthly magazine. This magazine is for those who are interested in intelligence on global affairs. It and its digital platforms benefit from contributions, dialogue, and analysis by the top international relations minds.
9. The Atlantic
Another national treasure is this monthly magazine, which presents a view from Washington D.C. of the country and world. Many top journalists contribute long-form features as well as analysis to this magazine. Sometimes, the Atlantic website uses clickable headlines. The magazine and its parent company subscribe to American journalism principles that fact-based reporting is a good thing.
Polito was founded by journalists who quit the Washington Post in 2006. While it does publish some products in print format, Polio can be accessed on the Internet or via mobile devices. Keep an eye out for Axios – a news startup that was launched by two founders from Politico.
Disclosures: I interned earlier in my career at the Associated Press, and the Washington Post. Between 2001 and 2011, I was a Wall Street Journal staff writer. I also published free-lance articles in The Post, New York Times, and the New Yorker (website), as well as in some of the publications on the runner-up lists.
National Public Radio
– TIME magazine
The Christian Science Monitor
– The Los Angeles Times (and many other metropolitan, regional daily newspapers)
– USA Today
Business News Sources
– FORBES magazine
– Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine
– Fortune magazine
– The Financial Timesnewspaper
Sources for reporting and opinions from the right side of the political spectrum:
– National Review
– The Weekly Standard
Reporting and opinions from the left side of the political spectrum:
– The New Republic
– The Nation