BuzzFeed, Elite Daily, Business Insider, Tumblr, and assorted blogs. What do they all have in common? They are widely used by millennials, entirely digital, and tend to have article titles like “This Guy Took Engagement Photos With A Burrito”. Another commonality is that they often source their content from a large pool of authors with little to no journalism background and lack the credibility of more established news sources as a result. (Mildly ironic considering this post was written by a college student with little to no journalism background.) As a result, millennials that choose to receive their news through these sites are often seen as less credible and less informed.
The fundamental building block of an argument or presentation is factual information. Despite having easier access to information, from infinitely more sources, millennials are increasingly stereotyped as less informed than previous generations. This can be for a number of reasons, 1) the proliferation of illegitimate forms of news, 2) the inability to think critically about these new forms of news, or 3) plain and simple: we may just be less informed than our parents.
A sad irony is that through the availability of tools such as Google and spell check is that they are taken for granted in many instances. Overlook looking the importance of proof reading is much easier when there is full faith that the computer will catch your errors. Also, few things are as permanent as they once were – a mistake writing this blog post is not like it would have been on a type-written page.
We have grown up with the ability to search google to easily find justifications for our opinions and to ‘fact check’ Wikipedia. We can also look at this as an issue that faces our generation, an issue with the masses blindly believing in whatever they see on the internet to be true as fact without questioning the source or the validity. The proliferation of internet technology has given the once esteemed and exclusive right of publishing or reporting on events to anyone who can connect to WiFi.
The Importance of ‘Legitness’
In the business world it is important, (at least I would imagine it is important), to have credible information. When the decisions you make can have far-reaching effects, wouldn’t you want those decisions to be based off the highest quality information?
Oftentimes, sites such as Elite Daily will source articles from hundreds of ‘influencers’ that have no credibility in journalism, but are able to write because there is a guaranteed audience for the site. From personal experience, I have several friends who have been published on websites like this – not to say that they are not credible people, but a 19 year old lacks the permissible level of experience to be preaching life advice. Websites that participate in a similar ‘crowd-sourcing’ model to generate content are BuzzFeed and Business Insider among many others.
The danger in circulating the works of novices is that they are not held to the same standards as a correspondent at the Wall Street Journal is, and by standards I focus on the level of fact checking and editorial work that is done before an article goes to print. Trust in what you are reading or viewing is very important. As evidenced by the recent banishing of Brian Williams from his nightly show after it was found that he had falsified a story he presented on his show. It should be the standard that any form of should be presented without bias or exaggeration. Frequently, we can see that ‘click-bait’ has infiltrated the once scrupulous profession of a journalist. Sites such as the New York Times and CNBC, a nationally syndicated news channel, have resulted to click-bait to increase views among younger demographics.
Increasingly, millennials are getting almost all of their news in an indirect way through social media. Twitter and Facebook have created an amazing platform for the widespread dissemination of information and are responsible for how 68% of millennials receive news. Printed paper, on the other hand, is responsible for only 33%.
These two simple steps… AMAZING!
#1 Read credible sources.
I know, very straight forward. Look for long form journalism or from websites that are the digital edition of an in-print publication. Chances are that if it is in print, it is probably pretty reputable.
A few of my suggestions are:
- Quartz — qz.com — a great news aggregator that also produces original content with clean design, strength in quantitative information.
- Bloomberg — bloomberg.com — anything you want to know about the world, Bloomberg has it. Subscribe to their daily updates too.
- Wall Street Journal — wsj.com — a little more adult, but widely regarded as the most unbiased news source for business and financial news.
You may notice that these are all finance and business related, and this isn’t by mistake. I find that finance news is the most unbiased and factual of any out there. Also, these aren’t limited to business news, they report on everything and ever
#2 Be critical of where your author sourced their facts
- Look for footnotes or articles that hyperlink to another source.
- Compare and contrast different viewpoints from multiple sources on your own.
My point in saying this is that it is important to maintain an air of skepticism while searching the internet and to understand that anyone can publish information – what you see on the internet that is not always true. Think California Girls by Katy Perry.
I can’t believe this! When I followed this simple advice, I was amazed!
You will appear more informed than you already do and can appear well-read by citing well-regarded publications. Help your firm or company to make the best decisions possible by providing them with research derived from credible sources. Those of us entering the business environment today have never known a world without the immediate access to the internet. We are comfortable with technology and leverage its ability to make our lives easier – so let us join together to maximize the incredible gift that the internet by reading high-quality sources and keeping CLICK ME for entertainment purposes only.