What makes a legitimate news source? One man’s informed opinion.

I was recently asked by someone whose opinion I value deeply, why I give credence to one news source and not another. I realized this was a very valid question that I hadn’t probed too deeply , so let the probing begin!

I did some research. Nothing too strenuous. I added both to my daily news aggregator and kept track of their stories for about 48 hours. Full disclosure, one of them used to be on my daily feed but I had to remove it pre-election as things just got silly. I couldn’t keep reading it at the time.

One source is conservative and the other liberal, though don’t give too much weight to those labels. If you know me you know that’s a complete red herring. They mean absolutely nothing to me, but the rest of the world seems to think they matter. And, since I have no choice but to live in this world, I have to play along.

Both have web-based video shows along with their text-based offerings. Through experience I’ve learned that having the text there to go back over and study closely is important to full understanding.

Both have ridiculously large viewership/readership numbers. Both are becoming household names but aren’t really there yet. Both would be considered “non-traditional” news sources. Both are considered quite far out to the right or left, respectively.

Results time.

Source 1

  • 90% of their articles are not their articles. They wrote short summaries about the articles and then posted a link to the website where they got it from.

  • The remaining 10% of their articles are theirs, but the majority do not have transcripts. Just a video clip from their show.

  • Around 15% of the posts from the sample period were direct references to the show, the show’s hosts or the show’s popularity.

  • A small percentage were obvious click-bait, salacious, empty “stories” there just to drive page views.

  • A large percentage of stories I simply could not read for the painful and obvious bias inherent in them, but I knew that coming into this.

Source 2

  • >90% of their articles are their articles. They may have been written off of someone else’s story, but then original reporting was done on top of that before writing up fresh copy. Attribution was included when material was taken from outside organizations.

  • Every story has text, whether a full story or a transcript.

  • <1% of the stories were about the source itself or its writers and hosts.

  • A small percentage were obvious click-bait, salacious, empty “stories” there just to drive page views.

  • A large percentage of stories I simply could not read for the painful and obvious bias inherent in them, but I knew that coming into this.

Now that I’ve done the (not terribly scientific) research, I can see why I believe that one source is a legitimate source and the other isn’t worth reading. I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I took the time. And I hope this allows me to retain the good opinion of the person who started me down this road. It means a lot to me.

And if this sort of thing has helped anyone else here understand their feeling for the media, or cleared up any confusion, well… good. Glad to help.

P.S.
One more thing. Source 1 is really more of a news aggregator than a news source. I would recommend that anyone who really wants to be informed to use a real news aggregator, one they control the sources of, to keep informed. It is a great way to stay current, stay “balanced” and stay educated.

My current aggregator is NextGen Reader, available in the Windows Store. It is powered by Feedly, which is a good aggregator in itself, but hard to read.

Go out and get reading!

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