The internet has revolutionized the way citizens access both domestic and international news stories. In the past, people had to rely on printed newspapers, local radio stations and mainstream TV networks for their news. Nowadays, people are one click away from hundreds of thousands of alternative news sources on the web. Of course, this abundance of new sources of information has its own benefits and drawbacks.
One of the main drawbacks of alternative news sources is potentially questionable credibility. More and more people are now publishing news stories on social media platforms without providing any credible sources. Once these stories get enough viewers, people start to believe them as fact even if some of the stories contain inaccurate or misrepresented information.
Fortunately, the internet has also enabled false news reporting to be easily called out. Thanks to the comment sections on various news websites, if a story is factually incorrect, you can often scroll down to the comments sections and see hundreds of people complaining about false information. Of course, comments sections are often full of online trolls, but a well-moderated comments section can be full of lots of insightful information about the accompanying news article.
One of the biggest threats to mainstream TV news media in recent years has been YouTube. On the platform, there are thousands of professional and amateur commentators, politic pundits, news reporters and journalists uploading videos every single day. Some of the most popular independent news channels on YouTube receive more traffic each month than some TV stations.
YouTube is also a great place to find amateur footage from events around the world. Any time a major event happens, you will often find dozens of videos uploaded to the platform featuring on-the-ground footage from people in the area with camera phones. If it is safe to do so, some people also often live broadcast major events on YouTube to offer a different prescriptive.
Online blogs are another source of alternative news. These user-generated websites can often be a great place to find out about local goings-on that the mainstream media do not have time to cover. Keep in mind that most blog posts are opinion editorials as opposed to professional journalism.
When it comes to reading any news story online, you should always check the source and reference list at the end of each article. You want to make sure that sources and references are credible. For example, if a writer references urban dictionary as a source of information, you might not want to take the article too seriously. Any good independent data journalist will back up any figures and statistics stated with links to credible sources, such as academic papers and police databases.
Perhaps one of the best ways to protect yourself from false information is to ensure you get your news from a wide range of different sources. Indeed, it can often be fun to see how differently various online websites and blogs cover the same news story.