By: Reyna Gobel MBA, MJ
As a journalist myself, I’d like to say the answer is always yes. Unfortunately, it depends on the publication and the writer. I recently attended a Reuters Institute panel with Google, Vox Media, The New York Times, and Oxford University to get their thoughts on discovering the validity of digital journalism.
1. Google does rank for trustworthiness.
Google will rank articles and writers that are cited often early in the Google search. So while you can’t tell the validity of articles immediately, you can tell at least if other people do read this source. You can also google the authors name to see where the authors name is found elsewhere. The extra step of researching an article author may not be worth it for something when you want to research quickly, but it useful when looking for someone you trust and recommend on a topic you read about often. OR you need the information you read to be actionable. For example, I’m fans of Ron Leiber and Lynnette Khaflani Cox on student loans, paying for college, etc. Even if you read every word I write and all my books, still read their articles and books, too.
2. Search your favorite sites in addition to Google firsts.
While Google does prioritize expert articles, some article slip through the cracks due to just having amazing SEO titles. To avoid reading articles that may not have the right information, go to your favorite sites and newspapers when the Google search doesn’t show authors and sites you know. The New York Times, for instance, mentioned they are in a complicated news environment and cover war zones. Many of their stories include parsing out data and capturing images. While sometimes, they have been seen as biased, they work hard to maintain journalistic integrity. “We can’t control how we’re characterized, but can control how stories are produced,” Monica Drake, New York Times Assistant Managing Editor.
3. Pay attention to what sources are quoted.
When I write my stories, I seek out the best available sources. If sources are quoted, look for the most official people such as college representatives, non profits, think tanks, and the Department of Education for data in stories. Sometimes financial advisors or other professionals need to quoted. Their advance may be fantastic. But it it’s information that feels like a second opinion is needed, talk to the most official person you know such as your personal financial advisor or the school financial aid office to verify. I like to say I read X, what do you think about this?
4. The next level of service to audiences may involve advocacy.
When you read a journalism piece whether it is about the Ukraine or a local issue, you may want to know what to do about the injustice. The answer could be anything from volunteering to raising money to building solutions. Thus, Michelle Bell, Vox Media founder, that her companies try to answer the what’s next question.