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What The News Isn't Telling You

This article was originally published to Medium on March 6, 2022 (https://medium.com/illumination/what-the-news-isnt-telling-you-587fb24261cf?source=friends_link&sk=8201c7ed210b374eb5cc35e72336054b).

My previous ILLUMINATION article was about the struggles the media can have with providing backup evidence on their stories about current events. In it, I recall how I read current events articles and think about ways the articles could have possibly misrepresented the event, while acknowledging that maybe they did, maybe they did not. I would only know about the accuracy if they made their original sources available to me!

I thought I should write an article where I detail this process. I will go on Google News and pick out five of the top articles on the front page. Then, for each article, I will put forth the topics that the journalist failed to cover, questions they could have answered, and sources they could have linked to. My hypothesis is that at least three of the five articles will either not provide sufficient evidence or leave important questions unanswered.

Before I begin, I should clarify that even though I am highlighting areas that I think the article should explore, I do not want to imply that their coverage of these areas should come to a particular conclusion. I am merely stating questions that the article could have answered, not answers that they could have put forth. Also, remember that news stories often update over time, so the story might be slightly different when you click on the link.

Off we go.

The top articles on my Google News feed. I discuss all five of these articles in this blog post

My first article will be the one about road closures at the top of the photo. Here it is: https://www.cp24.com/news/high-winds-prompt-road-closures-in-downtown-toronto-burlington-skyway-1.5807738.

Not only do we not know the original quotes that CP24 are paraphrasing from, we also do not know if the info was obtained through email, social media, in-person discussion, or any other method. Also, CP24 are not revealing anything about the sources other than that they are “police,” “firefighters,” and “Environment Canada.” I am not saying they need to say their name but maybe they should reveal their job title or department?

Also, the article does not say how long we can expect these roads to be closed for. Though, it is probably too early to tell as this is a breaking news article at the time of writing

Next up is the story about Ontario’s COVID deaths: https://www.cp24.com/news/ontario-reports-21-net-new-covid-19-deaths-1.5807610. The Sunday data in the article is not mentioned in any of the summaries yet, but there is a link at the bottom of the page that directs you to where the figures will eventually appear. So, I have no problem with this article.

I will follow up that with the one about Quebec’s COVID statistics: https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/covid-19-still-on-the-decline-in-quebec-with-a-decrease-of-20-hospitalizations-1.5807690. This article has absolutely ZERO citations. While the statistics should probably be easy to find shortly, I have some questions about the findings:

When they say that unvaccinated people are 7.7 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 15.4 times more likely to end up in the UCU, who are they comparing them to? People who have one vaccine? Two? Three? There is no way to know if, for example, totals from people with one vaccination and totals from people with two vaccinations are combined and then compared to unvaccinated people. Of course, this would provide useless data, since they would combine two wildly different groups of people to the unvaccinated group. This needs to be clarified. And when they say that Quebec is encouraging people to report the status of at-home rapid tests, how many people are complying?

On the upside, the article does clarify a lot of the limitations about their findings. That is the only reason for me to well-informed, though.

Shifting focus to the Russian invasion of Ukraine: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/checkup/is-canada-doing-enough-about-the-war-in-ukraine-1.6374221/what-an-investigation-into-war-crimes-could-mean-for-russian-aggression-in-ukraine-1.6374691

At least this article cites the names and positions of the analysts that are quoted, but some of the quotes could be taken out of context. However, at the bottom of the page, they clarified the method that was used to find them — Reuters files.

There are still some claims in the article that must be confirmed. They should link the statement from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the number of civilian casualties in Ukraine, as well as explain why the true number is unknown and expected to be higher. I would also like to see evidence concerning the calls for a tribunal to investigate Russia. The article reports that the tribunals will be similar to the 1993 trial against Bosnia — in what ways? Are there any ways it will be different?

The last article is about the leader of the inquiry: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/06/karim-khan-british-barrister-icc-russia-war-crimes-inquiry

Unlike CBC News, The Guardian’s article did not link to Karim Khan’s statement on investigating the conflict. Well, I shouldn’t say that. The article links to another Guardian article with a video, but the video won’t play for some reason. Maybe there is a clip in the video that shows confirmation, but I can’t say for sure.

This article has a ton of information, and I can’t think of any questions it leaves unanswered, save for “where are you getting these facts from?” There are a few citations in the article, but there are many other claims that are left incomplete. There are too many examples to list them all, but some of them include comments from the Legal 500 that Khan is “a go-to lawyer,” his involvement with the international criminal tribunal of Rwanda, and an open letter he wrote about how he aimed to reduce intimidation as the defence council for the Kenyan vice-president.

Hence, four of the five articles still have a lot of cleaning up to do. It must be truly difficult for most people to let go of the idea that most current events reports have a high enough standard of publication to be trustworthy. I don’t see the point of checking articles on current events if they don’t bother to provide sufficient evidence. Hearsay does not have the right to be this powerful.

January 2024 update: I recently changed my mind and started carefully following the news.

#Media #MediaLiteracy #CurrentEvents #JournalisticStandards #News


Medium Comments:

I feel like a lot of news stations are more gossip about events that are happening anymore as apposed to being a genuine opinion free, source for information. There are always alternative motives for the broadcasters that output news anymore and I feel like the politicized nature of it all is a good example of how much they don’t care to present news at it is. I would like to see a news outlet that creates video works without emitting any judgements or opinions for people to really gather all the facts and have an informed opinion. Sorry went off on a little rant about the news. Lol I enjoyed your article and I like that you are pointing out additional information that could have been added or shared to create a more well rounded story !! 🙏❤️😁

Sabrina Johnson

Glad you enjoyed my article. I don’t think news sources are going to be less opinionated because opinions are sometimes part of the news story, especially if the topic is politics or activism. But I do hope they link to more sources, cover the topic in more detail, and wait a bit more before publishing.

Kevin the Nonmonetized

Yes great points. Thank for your sharing your thoughts and opinions 🙏

Sabrina Johnson

They just want clicks and will write anything to get them nd the ad revenue. Truth is of no importance. Nice insight.

Ants Space in Time


Kevin the Nonmonetized