President & CEO, Public Radio International (PRI)

This conversation is closed.

Who do you trust more to help you understand world events, the press, politicians or your friends/family, or someone/something else? Why?

I would like to know who/what, the TED community trusts most to give them the news, information and knowledge they need to follow and understand major events, live their lives successfully, be connected in their communities, and more generally understand our world. What are the trade offs of these sources as you view them? Do you have time to think about it?

Closing Statement from Alisa Miller

Wow everyone. What a thoughtful set of postings -- Lindsay, special thanks to you for your ongoing comments and "facilitation" of the discussion. Excellent.

If I look across the responses, it seems the answer to "who we trust" to understand world events or topics that are global in nature is not an easy one. In our personal lives, the people we trust most are family and friends, but these people may not have the information or mastery we need. At the same time, there is great concern about a lack of transparency in our "news" and many have come to no longer trust of many information sources. So we need to curate on behalf of our own knowledge: a mix of family/friends, news and information sources, art music and culture, and other "lenses" too as we seek the truth of what is really going on in this interconnected world. New tools and services are emerging to help us with this effort. Your responses have inspired me. And at the end of June, I plan to launch a website, twitter feed, and Facebook page to continue this conversation, share tips and advice on how to better inform ourselves about the world through news and other content. I hope you might check it out. www.newsmakeover.com.

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    Apr 28 2011: Who do you trust more to help you understand world events, the press, politicians or your friends/family, or someone/something else? Why?

    I build my own opinions based on my lifelong study of world and American history as nourished by daily cable news updates.. After 40 years of thus processing millions of media messages, I have developed a few opinions. One of them is that my own opinion should not be based on facts defined by only one source. So I include press, politicians, family/friends as well as sources I know that I mostly disagree with. Pick your own poison, but know your limits.
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    Apr 24 2011: "Major events" don't concern me unless they involve me and those I love directly.

    "News" is a type of entertainment and very little else, so I read/watch the news if I need a laugh or want to subject myself to bad puns and lazy writing.

    I get all my relevant life info from pop music - John Lennon, Neil Young, a little bit o Dylan, and so on. Some of the most profound and thought-provoking statements, that I have come across, have been made through song lyric. This is idealism as opposed to poor journalism and if you're going to look for inspiration for life, I know which I'd aim for..
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      Apr 25 2011: Made me go deep on that one Scott.but I got it..I think..I that poetry, art, music, especially of the times, are a barometer on worlrd events that in many ways is truer, more finely tuned to us than what we hear or read in main stream media... that music, poetry and art help us aline our own intuition and sensibilities with events and with what people are syaing and doing about events that touch our lives and affcet our possibilities..our children's possibilities?.
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      Apr 25 2011: You know Scott, you are on to something here.

      Allow me to lump all the above, and more, into one group called artists. These artists offer us alternate, succinct and creative viewpoints on events. They gain their knowledge of events from the same sources as everyone around them (except for perhaps the ones claiming prophetic vision) but it is how they express and interpret the events that makes them so meaningful.

      You like Lennon. Well he wrote there is nothing you can do/say that hasn't already been done/said. Again, not the first time this perspective has been shared but it reminded us once again that while we are all unique we are far from original. The really fun and goofy part of this is, each generation attempts to dismiss and forget the lessons passed from the previous bunch. In this way, the new generation gets to believe they thought of it first or are the only ones to ever experience that situation. Original, right? Like Levis.

      There hasn't been a generation that hasn't thought of itself as modern. The ancients were modern, unique, global (in their terms) and more advanced technologically than any modern generation that came before them. Aren't we today claiming the same? Think it will stop with us? Hardly. This would require originality. This realization bothers some and comforts others. Life can be such a struggle.

      Now, as for the news. There is no new news either. What, there's a war somewhere? Some pretty common girl is about to become a princess? The youth are restless, impatient and bored?

      The blurred line between news and entertainment itself is not even new. Lennon was a form of a minstrel, was he not? The news cycle outlets are political outlets are entertainment outlets. Who can you trust? That is for each of us to decide, not for someone to manipulate on our behalf. That might be considered propaganda. Oh, and Goebbels wasn't the first to successfully utilize this concept either.
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        May 5 2011: As well as Mr Lennon's music, I always appreciate the straight-up aspect of his bullshit and that sometimes, he made honest and eloquent observations on issues that seem to be of great importance to a lot of people, including myself.

        He easily understood the power of the TV media, a simple message and iconography in a way that seemed to make the media of the time look like simpletons in their own profession.

        I agree with what you said about dismissing the lessons of the past. Individuals grow but humanity follows the same slow circle, it seems.

        I also like "There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be." Reassuring to think that even your cock-ups were destined to be..
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      Apr 28 2011: well put
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      May 5 2011: But the question is who do you trust for news and information, not inspiration.
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      May 5 2011: Scott - Pop music?!?!? You get your news and information from pop music?!?!?! News by definition is current. John Lennon can't help much with that, nor can Bob Dylan....
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        May 23 2011: I don't see anything new in the 'news' and information (in the current events sense) is just formalised gossip. Bob and John are more current than you might think..
  • Apr 28 2011: I use BBC, articles from Google News and recently I found Aljazeera English being a fairly neutral and great source of news esp. for Middle East. However I find Aljazeera's opinion articles very bias.

    I try to read different point of views and forums (like here) where people present different opinions or sources of information.

    I also like to read books and watch people talk about their life stories here on TED or elsewhere.

    Finally Wikipedia and Wikipedia News seems fairly reliable site.
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      Apr 30 2011: zdenek.. I agree with you and was also quite surprised to find Aljazeera covering issues to international standards of journalim..also agree with your observation on editori als..but then so are NY Times editorials predictable. But the larger point is a good one..there are solid reliable journalistic sources for international news and it actually isn't that much work to find them..I'm not suggesting every day the way take in the Times, the Guardian and BBC but when we want to really understand a particular issue.
      • Apr 30 2011: Hi Lindsay, yes having more sources is always good and one can compare their reports. Last few weeks I have been closely watching developments in Libya and Syria so Aljazeera is great site for learning about the latest developments =)
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    Apr 25 2011: I use the internet, as much as possible. And not the website of the news agencies on TV. Blogs, online journals and magazines, communities, social media, forums, TED.. the list is endless.

    Yes, there is a lot of America every where. Sifting through so much information is difficult but as information technology and web development advance it is becoming easier and easier. Television is important. But only a small percentage of it, which generally gets lost in entertaining news broadcasts, highly manipulative advertising and redundant information. Consumerism has become a driving force in media..

    But in all this, other mediums of expression and communication have taken a very important space in my life. Stories of individuals and experiences are very important to me. Doesn't matter if I find them through a book, a song or a movie.. there is abundant knowledge and wisdom that is worthy of my trust.
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      Apr 27 2011: Guneet do you record or post what you find to share with others? What kinds of things do you research? Does it include things that are in the headlines like all the unrest in the middle east, why oil costs so much etc. etc.?
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        Apr 28 2011: Yes I share as much as I can - Facebook and Twitter help me with that.

        I don't particularly research certain subjects, issues or events, but I go about understand and gathering knowledge. There are somethings for me that are really important, more important than many other things. For instance, I generally do not care what our 'politicians' are saying or doing. Newspapers are filled with court orders, corruption charges, murders, scams and the rest. The Forbes rich list doesn't deserve much of my time.. in fact, it is not difficult to learn to differentiate the noise from the relevant information.

        What I am more concerned about is why there are so many problems, so much suffering and apathy, despite advancing technology? What is wrong with our economics? How is social design evolving? Where are we going? What is my role? Answers to such questions are everywhere. Like, people on TED have many valuable insights for me..

        The world wide web has sparked revolution in my mind and it seems to be never-ending - which is good I guess. So yes, the unrest in west asia is important. Oil is too, maybe not its cost.
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          Apr 28 2011: Guneet..another wonderful quote for my growing collection..thank you"The world wide web has sparked revolution in my mind and it seems to be never-ending - which is good I guess"We are all learning how to really use the possibillities of the web positively for the pursuit of meaningful ideas and critical issues.
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    May 21 2011: Alisa,

    I trust any and all sources and voices (including media) which demonstrate respect, sincerity, insight and objectivity.

    I tend to distrust any which demonstrate an attitude or pattern that inhibits their own or other's transparency. Including media that give voice to unidentified or coercive sources that produce non-contructive, or worse, destructive influence without due qualification.

    I value those who (as you do here) who seek the wisdom of many different people and perspectives. And am heartened when they apply these.

    On the other hand, I reject the opinions of anyone, near or far in any venue or forum that overtly, insidiously, manipulatively or by-proxy abet brutal rhetoric or activities.

    And tend to avoid or proceed with extreme caution those entities, institutions or people that persistently or stubbornly defend, justify or deny their human capacity or evidence thereof to "do harm." This would suggest they view themselves as omniscient. Not a good sign of objectivity or insight :-).

    Andrea
  • May 3 2011: As an unergrad student, I'm smack dab in the middle of the generation that is so often scorned for being ‘lazy’ because of our utilization(or is it dependence?) of the immediate availability of information on the Internet. I am also lucky enough to be taking one of the first (of many, I’m sure) classes dedicated to understanding social, cultural, behavioral, and even neurological tendencies on the Internet. From my perspective, which has radically changed during this course, gaining ‘facts’ has become a more involved, collaborative process than simply reading one newspaper story and claiming to understand a situation since the Internet. While I interned in a major news source in NYC, I realized that many of the stories we produced were tweeted, posted on Facebook, and most commonly, hyperlinked on blogs.

    I think so much of what we rely on today (especially my ‘lazy’ generation) is a variety of sources, both private and public. I rarely believe things word of mouth anymore, and am quick to Google anything I find suspicious. This might lead me to a news story, then blog post, then to a forum discussion, and then to a Twitter feed. The Internet allows, or rather, facilitates our ability to find a myriad of viewpoints, opinions, etc. on a single topic. I think that this culmination is what I most rely on in understanding current events.

    Last night’s news was a perfect example of how this occurs. I found out about Osama bin Laden’s death via text message last night, and I immediately went to CNN.com to get the full story. I read updates and simultaneously watched a streaming video. About that time, my mom called me and said she was reading about it online. I clicked to my Facebook page and at least 10 of my friends’ statuses were about the news. One of my peers stayed glued to her Twitter feed to get the latest updates.In closing, I will link to her post on the intersection of social media and news:http://www.hastac.org/blogs/caroline-buck/all-we-really-need-twitter
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      May 3 2011: so many different and worthy points here right at the heart of Alisa's question..thank you..I wonder if you saw Alisa's Ted Talk .(link above) the news about the news....you seem to be syaing that it was your own direct expereience that news produced by a major network was sourced ad hoc..much of it from sicial mdeia..rather thna produced as whta we call "jorunalism" is that what you are saying? And if so re you also cautioning us not to trust ay newtork news? Is there anyone you trust in news today?..
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    May 2 2011: Hi Alissa,
    This is a great question. It is hard to say if anyone trusts the news nowadays, or any source for that matter. With all of the sources of information these days, I think people are starting to trust themselves to try and find the most reliable source....If they so wish to. It is those who want the truth of a matter that see the news of the world as a sort of puzzle. In order to get the big picture, people have to get the pieces of information from many sources, then lay it all out and put it together. I myself am skeptical of many news sources, but then again I am new to the interest to local and global issues. i believe the trust that people give to their information source of choice is highly swayed by their environment. Just as they say a person is a product of their upbringing, so too is the choice they make for obtaining news. Many people I think just want something to talk about at the water cooler, and take the news at entertainment value. I think that explains the style in which local and nationwide broadcasts are presented; fast paced, and friendly reoccurring characters. I think some are mistaking opinion based discussions as news, and perhaps follow the news that best suits their way of thinking, and choice of political view. This is why I believe it is hard to pinpoint exactly who a person trusts. I trust in public non-corporate sponsored news. I think it weeds out the motives, and censorship that tags along as interest on the loan. Although I am new to seeking out news, I think public, and non profit news sources are the organizations I trust until I get the hang of searching for the puzzle pieces myself. have a great day.
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    May 1 2011: Understanding world events is a pretty tall order - I'm not sure that even with the wide variety of information and opinion channels that are available with today's technology that one can evaluate, synthesize and process the cacophony into understanding.

    Having said that, what I think I can do is recognize when something important has happened (i.e. the recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant crisis) and try to determine what is important to me, what I want to know more about and how I want to participate/engage.

    For example, I know it's bad over in Japan just north of Tokyo in Sendai, but I don't know how bad. I'm not sure the experts know how bad it is or how bad it is going to get. I do know I've donated to the cause - but I still don't understand it and the influence these events will have on medicine, commerce, energy and so on.

    So, I use the internet, radio and media to recognize that something is happening. I then determine my own level of interest, and then research it. I'm not sure I see it as a matter of trust, except in my own ability to sift through the data and synthesize it into sometime I can make sense out of. Then finding others with similar interests to discuss it helps me vet my limited understanding.

    Thank you for an interesting question.
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      May 1 2011: Hi Gerry..I think what you are doing is exactly what a responsible 'citizen of the worild" should do. and I admire it. Also the way you frame what you do points to a truth for most of us about international of global news..we tune in for the big events ( we all do the same) but day to day we are tuned in elsewhere. So what Elisa has told us in her wonderful talk, The news About The News ( Apologies if not exact title) about the shrinking foreign desks for major news outlets and the high interest in global news is explained quite simply. Those of us that are in the 32-50% who would answer yes on polls that we are interested in global news are interested in major international events so of course when the big events come down there is no one on the ground to cover it. Seems so obvious..now that you lay it out for us..can't man a foregin office for 5 years with epole becoming exprets on gistory and background just to be ready for that one big event that everyone is going to want to know everything about. So is that ok by you..that major news flags major international events for us and we have the option and opportunity to find out as much as we want from other sources?
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        May 2 2011: Thank you for your comments Lindsay. My grandfather was a newpaperman (journalist, reporter, editor).

        It is clear that the information explosion is rapidly diluting the ranks of professional journalists. There simply aren't enough to go around.

        News was often framed by editors as was/is story selection. Bloggers have entered the picture with varying levels of journalistic expertise - making the sifting and analysis more challenging.

        You ask if I'm okay that major news organization flag major international events for us, and then we have the option to find out as much as we want from other sources?

        I don't like answering a question with a question, but I'm trying to think what my reasonable options are. I suppose I could go see for myself - I considered doing so with the aftermath of Katrina, but this is untenable for every event. The resources of our government can't put the Secretary of State at all major events. I suppose I could focus on a specific outlet, CNN or the Dallas Morning News, but I think this approach lacks balance.

        I think it's my responsibility to become informed in an as balanced a manner as practical.

        Thank you for the conversation.
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          May 2 2011: Gerry..thank you for this and glad to put your very worthy comments in the context of your personal history..your grand dad a journalist. IWhat do you think your grand dad would say aboiut modern journalism? Even in my youth we really truly trusted people like Walter Cronkite..I think he was considered one of the most trusted journalists of all time. We don't have heroes like that any more.
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    Apr 30 2011: This is a very interesting question as I think a lot of world and especially my generation (mid 20s) have become too reliant on any source they can find. It has gotten to the point where you can spit out a lie and people start giving it as truths by way of word of mouth or virally (like Zeitgeist or Loose Change).

    So this brings us back to the question at hand. I think to some degree I still have to say the press but you must look at each important topic from all angles. For instance, don't just read NBC and say well I know what is going on now! I would suggest looking at BBC, original AP releases, Drudge, Al Jazeera, Fox, CNN and so on. I think in this day and age where we have access to so many different professional sources at the click of a button, there should be no excuse to being uninformed.

    To answer the last question. If you don't have time to think about it, then it would be counterproductive to spread around what you think you know without the proper research.
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      May 1 2011: such an important point Ted and I am beginning to think this meme thing..this grabbing on to anyhting that "feels good" and running with it..spreading it as if it were knowledge..is tied up to the kind of "information vacuum" we live in as far as normal media are concerned. We can fill in the gaps ourselves..find out the truth ourselves..but it's very hard work..much easier just to sign up with some idea that resonates. I love your conclusion and agree completely:"If You don't have time to think about it, then it would be counterproductive to spread around what you think you know without proper research" But what's the anti dote for that..isn't apathy ( and I think what you are pointing to is an apathetic response) an indicator of political "disease".. of political and economic disenfranchisement and powerlessness..and what role can press have in changing that?. Is it important to have a reliable press that speak the truth..a press that we can trust?
  • Apr 29 2011: In my opinion,we don't need to trust anyone as for understanding world events,because no one can tell you the exact imformation,so what shall we do ?we need to collect and process imformation and develop the unique perspective about it .it is unnecessary to care about who to trust ,just trust yourself ,never let the initiative go .
    • Apr 29 2011: Dear sean shuai,
      do we have enough time every day to collect and process all news?
      so when work and eat and sleep?
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        May 2 2011: Can we afford not to? Isn't that a primary duty in a free world..to be informed? And yes, it is actually harder now to be informed as media news has degenerated and blurred with entertainment. As sean says above..we can't let the initiative to be informed go,
  • Apr 29 2011: I trust none one and everyone.. There is no “one source” to use when gathering information. We all nee to see all possibilities and trust our own conclusions base on different views of the same topic from different media and people.
    If possible, I´ll check the information going to the place my self.
    In other words, I will take my opinion over every other, but only after gathering all information from all sources and deciding who to trust.
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    Apr 29 2011: Credibility and and level of expertise in the topic you are talking about does wonders to tune me in regardless of the format.
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      May 2 2011: yes that's the litmus test for me too on who I trust..people who have credibility and expertise
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    Apr 28 2011: Is this a loaded question? My family doesn't understand most world events. Most of the press trivializes world events or don't cover it at all. Friends have their biases. Trusted journalists are few. I trust PBS's FRONTLINE, the NY Times, the Wash Post and some others like Rachael Maddow - people with no axes to grind.
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    Apr 28 2011: I think in general I take a cynical deconstructionist approach to the news. I try to hear different sides of the story with an eye toward who comes out looking good in the story and who the major foundations and advertisers are supporting a given program.

    Once I see what the story wants me to think, and who wants me to think that way, I do a quick sketch working backwards to see what might actually be going on underneath the surface. This process works better when I'm able to get diverse versions of the story, and figure the theoretical spot in the middle is closest to accurate.
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    Apr 27 2011: In the last one year,i realized tht niether the politicians or many mainstream journalists nor ur friends and family can help person understand the world events unless n until they are very knowledgeable and neutral.As far as i am concerned i think a person has to do it himself and ofcouse if u fet to hear some liberal voices out there,they really help..
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    Apr 27 2011: Steven Levitt in his book freakonomics answered this question, and believe me there isnt any source that could offer 100% true news. People twist fact to match their theory of interest.
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      Apr 27 2011: yeah.....
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      Apr 27 2011: Even if a person really wants to be neutral, won't be cause individuals aren't neutral. There is no such thing as objective analysis of facts, it's always infested with the person's values and, most of times, with interests too.
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        May 9 2011: that is pretty true but if u listen to diverse opinions then it surely helps
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      Apr 28 2011: yes and for us "do it our selfers" we won't find any kind of truth out there in the internet iif we start out locked into a theory about what we think is going on.
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    Apr 26 2011: Two people - Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. :D

    Seriously now, I am not a big fan of traditional printed media or of their online sites, because no matter how "neutral" a newspaper or an agency claims to be, news is always made by people, and people always have a certain bias and a certain agenda.

    For news the best thing I have found is Newsmap (http://newsmap.jp), to quote the site's creator:

    "A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap's objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.

    Newsmap's objective is to simply demonstrate visually the relationships between data and the unseen patterns in news media.

    Google News automatically groups news tories with similar content and places them based on algorithmic results into clusters. In Newsmap, the size of each cell is determined by the amount of related articles that exist inside each news cluster that the Google News Aggregator presents. In that way users can quickly identify which news stories have been given the most coverage, viewing the map by region, topic or time. Through that process it still accentuates the importance of a given article."

    Usually articles are from sites favoring all sides of the political spectrum, so all in all the news has somewhat less bias.
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      Apr 26 2011: RE:Newsmap..the link you give is in Japanese only and they may be having access problems at hte moment on the main site..sounds like exactly what is needed..certainly what I am looking for..thanks so much. When Itry to follow the Libya thread I google "Libya today" and it leads to a remarkable set of global news sources and blogs..certainly helps
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        Apr 27 2011: In Japanese?

        I thought default is in English and that you can then choose the language/country you're interested above.
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          Apr 27 2011: Hi sabin..no problem..found it int Elisas wonderful TED Talk,,still haven't been able to access directly though..tx for the follow up
  • May 23 2011: The obvious answer is our opinions and understanding of world events are a sum of all we are exposed to. For me the least trust worthy sources of world events are the network news broadcasts. I take basic facts from news outlets but listen carefully for their point of views and opinions as they filter into the story. I think we must also consider historical perspectives on current day events as well. We can not believe one word our politicians utter without our own fact check being employed. our elected officials and mass media outlets seem more intent on pushing agendas and framing all current events to meet this goal than just merely telling the truth and let the audiance form their own opinions. Its as if they don't trust the public in general enough to allow them the opportunity to assess the facts. This tactic has brought me to the point of total mistrust. I read multiple newspapers, watch multiple news broadcast and then call upon my own knowledge to form my opinions. Its too bad and very sad there is no one real trusted source of news.
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    May 23 2011: I'm a staunch believer of Buddhism, so meditation helps me.
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    May 23 2011: Personally, I think I am a skeptical guy, I will never trust anyone or anything all the time. I think the world is mixed with facts and artificial things, you will get embarrassed when you absorb anything and take them for granted. Everyone need to distinguish these thing, to develop our criticizing ability.
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    May 23 2011: True journalism is a dying trade. Oddly enough, new media is contributing to it the most (I recommend you this great complex documentary Page One (2011) about one year in The New York Times that deals with the transformation of the media industry at its time of greatest turmoil). Despite this contradiction I think the best way to understand world is to have as much imput as possible and the truth is hiding somewhere in the middle. So I go with all of a mentioned.

    One more though. Two months ago I was reading an amazing article about the way people search news on the internet. Despite a truckload of sources on any topic you can possibly look for, people tend to search only those sources that correspond with their political views, beliefs etc. So let's say you are a liberal looking for more news on gay marriage. You are more likely to just browse through a liberal media like Huffington Post or NYT, but you probably won't care what republican media like Washington Post or Fox News have to say about the cause. By that selection process you are blocking yourself from getting the full picture, therefore you voluntarily distort your understanding of the cause. And if that is the way you obtain the news, I don't trust you. What's even more troubling, search engines are adapting to your taste and mirror it in the future search results, so I also want to recommend you this talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

    And if you are not in a hurry, then wait a few decades - time always shows the right face of the past events through arts.
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      May 23 2011: Fox News is a very unreliable source of news. It's the last place I would go for news, But to be fair, I don't very often read MSBC either.
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    May 23 2011: I trust the bible,it's simple,it has a starting point and a finishing point,everthing else is in between,now from stating that. E A mercer is bang on but i beg to differ on one small point,we have more accumulated knowledge to draw upon and so will the next generation.it's all in the encode except i hate people that try to make you go "Oooooooh! and Aaaaaaaah"
  • May 17 2011: I trust the alternative media NOT the corporate media because they information is mostly based on lies to protect their owners.
  • May 16 2011: it is very interesting question to answer. I think statement of both media and national government is fully exaggerated with their points of view. I fed up to hear their words. I trust people who say their idea easy to understand for us. The information with complicated idea was created by reading books by great writers. (they throw Their idea as his or her idea) If you could not understand , you can ask the question according to wonders on you. If there is someone who answer the question with plain words is the person who you feel truth not trust. of course I will read many newspapers, specific field magazine and so forth.

    I do not trust people. trust is sometimes dependance on people. I always find solution with someone or any other people. It is the reason why I am doing networking. the amount of people will provide me many points of view to inspire to create new stuff on the inspiration.

    I sometimes use words of internationally trusted people such as TED is to pretend one of the people on the field. But the pretendance was revealed eventually though. I think the most important point is up to you whether you can understand or not.
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    May 15 2011: I don't look to any one source, as I have found any one is insufficient, to understand major events, live my life and be connected in my community. I have learned that national tv network news, as well as cable news, cover events THEY deem worthy, rather than covering events that are worthy. One news source that represents a more unbiased view is PBS. Though I subscribe to a local newspaper and read it everyday, I read the NY Times and the Washington Post occasionally, mostly because I can and it's available. But with all of the above, I still do not feel like I have all the information. I do value talking to other people and hearing their take on things, but I admit I don't always agree with them. When I talk to friends who have connections to politicians/politics I realize how much is not discussed in public forums and the reasons why. I feel disappointed in the average person's knowledge of current and past events and fear this ignorance.

    I value, as many who have written here, NPR, and wish for other sources as honest and open.

    This is an interesting forum. Thanks to all who have written here.
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    May 15 2011: I don't think I "trust" any one person or outlet for news/information. I do read newspapers, blogs, news sites online, watch my twitter flow for random newsy posts - that's how I found out about the earthquake in Japan - and listen to the radio occasionally, usually NPR. I try and get a wide spectrum of details and then form my own opinions, or the whole story rather than the just a piece ...Television news has fallen out of favor with me because it's so hype driven - when I was a kid I trusted Walter Cronkite as I got older I watched Peter Jennings, but now I rarely watch television news. I think the whole medium is shifting or morphing into something else, and it's too early to tell which direction it is going into.
  • May 14 2011: With the advent of the Interent one would be a fool to outright trust anyone! All the information we need is at our fingertips and one can easily make their own dedcutions - free of the bias and prejudice that's inherent in anyone's personal take on a particular situation - with the wealth of sources we are now presented with.

    The smart person questions everything and everyone and takes nothing as 'gospel' but fact.
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    May 12 2011: So our President and Secretary of State and other key officials who were the source of that absurd initial story were actually watching it live..and stll said that????? Almost agonizing that even the most reliable news sources are so manipulated .
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    May 11 2011: I think it's really a very hard situation feel that you do not have at least one person to trust on everything. I can just give examples and only the truths. For example I don't trust TED.com management because I'm new here. But I trust my prime minister Erdogan. I don't trust Obama. I trust Bosnians. I don't trust myself.
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    May 11 2011: i think first we need to trust ourself.
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    May 9 2011: Alisa, good news is constructed from gathering all the facts and ensuring that the facts are validated. In this age of high speed social media the world is awash with imagery that is often times short on facts. By the time facts become known pundits have already put their own spin on events and an ever cynical public is distrusting the information provided and adding their own spin. Many news sources have abandoned good news making and almost stopped rigorously examining information before declaring these as facts.

    I believe that there are good sources of news that you can trust to be presenting good information without spin. In this group I include your organization, the BBC, Al Jazeera and a number of broadsheet news papers. Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others are opinion providers, I rarely use these sources for news and only occasionally watch these sources for entertainment. Having said that my grandfather taught me to do my own investigation. He would by three or four broadsheets on a Sunday, pick one story and compare the facts presented. What we learned from this was that the facts presented can be wrong, my grandfather said the only thing you can really believe is the date at the top of the news paper. He did add that on one occasion he even found the date was wrong.

    What I learned was to be very selective when it came to choosing sources of news. I really hope PRI continues to maintain its very high standards in news investigating and providing. All power to you.
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    May 5 2011: For me, NPR and it's affilates are hands-down the best sources for general information/news. No question about it.

    For more detailed information on news events you've got to spend the time necessary to sift through the deluge of information that screams for our attention. Not an easy task!

    CNN also does a decent job of news coverage.
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    May 3 2011: To the point of who do we trust in the media here is a really fasinating piece from slate comparing the details and cited sources across a broad spectrum of specifically named journals and news outlets..just astomonishing ..so many discrepancies and variations even on quotes from official whaite gouse staements..http://www.slate.com/id/2292717?wpisrc=xs_wp_0001st really puts Alisa News anbout the News in clear light and also her question "who do we truct" in journalism?
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    May 1 2011: JohnPerkins.org is an excellent example of "Citizens Journalism" on what he speaks he speaks from knowledge..through investigation..it isn't neutral..it just reports what it finds but it does bring to light the story behind the story as in todays article on Qadhaffi's ( the spelling I;ve chose over the many offered) plans to create a new gold currency and price oil only in that currency. He claims that Sadaam Hussein had announced the same plan in the lead up to our intervention in Iraq. Maenwhile all otger nedia are contiuing to report on Libya as it were still all about democacry and humanitartian aid. We need oher voices to shoe up the crumbling and blind fourth estate until it rights itself. ( I have just started a TED Conversation on the Implications of Perkins article today..please join http://www.ted.com/conversations/2497/what_would_happen_to_the_balan.html )
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    Apr 30 2011: I see that the Voice of America now has a "citizen's journalist" feature ( not real journalism..just blogs) but very interesting how the blog brings nuance, fills gaps, explores the unexplored even to VOA's own coverage. Does this/can this be useful in pointing to the gaps and errors in any coverage? Is that enough to prop up or supplment the challenged 4th estate?For resaons Alisa alreday presented in her Ted Talk the News About the News, most commenters here have commented they don't trust any single news source or journalist. Can Citizen's Journalism as modeled at Voice of America provide information that is trustworthy?
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    Apr 30 2011: I just re re read this whole excellent conversation top to bottom..every comment every word and I see now that many who want to understand world news are finding ways to make up the shortfall of major news outlets. The question that is forming in me is can we afford not to have some universally acessible source of quality journalistic coverage on important world events? Can we really have a healthy vibrant democracy without a heathy vibrant fourth estate.? So what does the new generation fourth estate look like..surely it has to be more than individuals scarmbking to understand what they can of important world events.
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    Apr 29 2011: I am so impressed with the caliber and discernment of this conversation. And agree with the growing consensus here that if we really want to know..we have do the work ourselves..I suggest that if we don't do it..if we just allow ourselves to "be comfortable" in the world of no news, half truths and straight out lies and memes we are facilitating the unthinkable all over this globe. It has always been the place of journalism to "let freedom ring" by telling the truth..by giving both sides accurately. Alisa has told us that isn't happening ..there's no one out there in the wolrd any more collecting facts on important international events.for big papers and news outlets here at home in the U.S. Its all cut and pasted from AP and Reuters.So there is no one to do it for us. Maybe through the internet, harnessed to the traditional values of journalism, we can build a world wide network of reliable news feeds on important emerging events and build the clearing houses to sort all that out and get it to "the street"..If not to this to what else does our "do it yourself " consensius point? Maybe this is the new way "we the citizens of the world" can be volunteers in service to the world. What I am doing at my own blog isn't that ..it's just my own record of what my own serach has found..but maybe there is a need and a way to elevate blogs into reliable newsfeeds.
  • Apr 29 2011: Press TV
    http://www.presstv.ir/

    while checking others
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    Apr 27 2011: I like NPR, CNN, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

    I avoid Fox News and MSNBC.
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    Apr 27 2011: This question made me do some serious thinking. How do I know what I think I know about world events? It's not at all obvious.

    I read or listen to various news sources (mostly online), and I look for alternative points of view online and among friends and family. I don't trust any one of these sources over the others; I'm constantly filtering and balancing the different views.

    I weigh what friends and family have to say against what I know about their intelligence, how well-informed they tend to be, and their ideological commitments. Some, honestly, aren't worth listening to (and you know who you are!). My views are often clarified by trying to express them or by trying to challenge the assumptions underlying others' views.

    As for the press, I'm always concerned about bias, whether in individual reporting or through editorial influence. This is a pernicious issue. I often think about how else a story could have been reported. In addition, some reporters sound like experts despite lacking facts or an understanding of the context; they're not able to admit that they don't know, that they need more information or perhaps a follow-up with an expert or two. My past journalism studies have made me especially sensitive to these points. I want to be able to trust the Fourth Estate to keep government accountable to the people. Mostly I see news businesses delivering shorter stories with little depth, ensuring a wider audience and better advertising revenue.

    The least useful source of information would be the politicians. They're elected to represent their home district or state, but they act in the best interests of their respective political parties and/or the special interests that contribute to their re-election campaigns. I find campaign literature almost ludicrous, and many public statements are merely self-serving sound bites. I'm a frequent visitor to FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com, two sites that evaluate some of the claims made by politicians.
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      Apr 28 2011: Great "in a nutshell" quote

      "How do I know what I think I know about world events? It's not at all obvious."

      well said and again points to the need for each of us to the work ourselves to try and understand what is really going on
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    Apr 27 2011: Surely..its the friends and there family people that we all trust more than politicians or press.....
  • Apr 26 2011: I am assuming or thinking that to "give me the news" you mean "the real truth" about what is in the news. Today, I trust very little, in the way of news and people who clothe their message with old, antiquated moralism. If I can find those who offer scientific data, that is free from moralism I have more trust in it and then I can check it out for myself, as I do research on what is in the news as best I am able. Scientific method is not the same as scientific opinion, which is no different from any other kind of opinion. It just presents the real, proven facts or results and then one can decide on a morality to apply or discern from it, if necessary. Most people I know today, pick up information and somehow "choose" what they decide to believe and proselytize. Most do no research and I know this because after I present the truth from my research, they get angry and dismissive of me. I look at a lot, read a lot and if you ask anyone who knows me, I talk a lot (too much). But no one wants to talk. That is very dangerous. My sister cannot talk about any of what is really going on. Friends are the same. My offspring, can't be bothered, they have too much on their plate or are trusting in "faith" that somehow it will all work out. When I take world events, and examine them from a perspective of what kinds of people are involved, the agencies, governments, and politicians, it becomes much easier. None of those listed have ever solved the problems us humans have. They almost are never telling the truth, and rarely if ever, do they follow through on any promises and if an individual doesn't believe those comments are true, then I don't know what to say. It isn't being pessimistic but just honest. They haven't. They don't, and over time we have proof that they will not. So, anything they are involved with is highly suspect. What concerns me more though, is that the people don't recognize this, admit it and get rid of it, all of it, for it doesn't work. Most refuse to listen
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      Apr 26 2011: a keeper y yolanda

      "Most people I know today, pick up information and somehow "choose" what they decide to believe and proselytize"

      I am adding this to my TED Best Quotes list. But the question I pose below to Alisa is framed from a place where I wonder if the absence of truth in what we are told is about what we would call intentional knowing lieing or whether our world has just gotten so big and so complex it's almost impossible to follow any one thread with clarity and certainty.
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    Apr 26 2011: Alisa..perhaps you can tell us why there are such gaps in coverage..On the stories it can cover NPR does a wonderful job of getting to the truth...was it NPR that.just did a wonderful piece on Egypt that finally tried to bring the truth to attention..that there is is no revoultion there only a military coup..but right this moment for example not one paper or radio station reporting on the Presidents "resolve to determine if there is any market manipulation in oil prices" has mentioned that the President has failed to order implementation of the Wall Street Reform Act provisions that would regulate the rampant speculation on ourcommodities exchanges. I know that it takes a huge amount of time to stay on top of just one thread in the news...hours and hours and hours to come close to even .having a balanced picture let alone a full picture...And I am beginning to think not enough people who want that much infomration about anything..no matter how important it is. I have become my own micro NPR..just for myse;f..for my own understanding..I do my own research on things i think are important and put it on my blog. At the moment I am struggling just to track Libya, Egypt and the real oil story. Is our world just too complex for any news organization to stay on top of? ( And thanks for NPR)
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    Apr 26 2011: Alisa, Please see an idea posting by a young man named Sky Fenton. He is proposing that media be rated by a 3rd party so that there is some sort of indicator for the public of bias and clarity etc. This sort of idea is being done for evaluating hospitals.
    • May 10 2011: I tried finding his post but no luck, care to post a link to it?

      I think we, the ordinary citizens, already have the tools to rate media specially now with the internet. We can also vote via the more traditional way via voting with our money and attention.

      It's just that we are not aware that we we have a choice and media has for so long controlled our attention and the things that we pay attention to.
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    Apr 25 2011: Who helps me understand World events? Are you asking me who is my shepherd and what flock I belong to?

    Here is my view said as a famous prayer:
    "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."

    From this prayer I derived the following algorithm to handle events around me:
    1. Does it affect me or my interests?
    2. If "No" go to END.
    3. Is the effects of the event bad for me or my interest?
    4. If "No" go to 9.
    5. Can I minimise or reverse its impact on me or my interests?
    6. If "No" go to END.
    7. Take action to minimise or reverse the effects of the event.
    8. Go to END.
    9. Can I maximise its impact on me or my interests?
    10. If "No" go to END.
    11. Take action to boost the effects of the event on me and my interests.
    END

    What I really hate is when news of world events are pounded on me by people that get paid to do it or benefit in some way when doing it.

    So the first question I ask when I hear something is, "How the one that brings me the news is invested in it and who is influencing him?".
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      Apr 26 2011: sounds quite selfish :(
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        Apr 28 2011: It sounds selfish, but you can also see it as being responsible. If everyone really looked after him- or herself in the most optimal way, instead of meddling with other people, a lot would be easier. True happiness and wellbeing is contagious and overflowing. A fulfilled individual contributes to mankind's wellbeing just by setting an example.
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    Apr 25 2011: Cause I'm a International Relations student, I like reading about the event, get to know what that is about and then i apply the theories i learn. After that i try to read what specialists are saying, compare to my analysis and then i can feel that i "understand" about it. I do that just for events that interest me, or else it's overwhelming.
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      Apr 27 2011: Hi Mario..yes I do the same thing..what do you find when you take the time,as you do, to find the answers for yourself. Do any of the popular media, even those we trust like NPR and Democrcay Now also include what you think is imoprtant on their front pages and headlines? Does what they say about it jibe with what you found out? I post what I find at my blog and agree with you that you have to narrow your scope because its very very very hard work to stay on top of even one important thing.I am tracking only Egypt, Libya and Oil at the moment and Ithat's all I can manage .Have you thought of doing that..of having a blog where you can capture what you found? I am beginnng to think that the reason even the best media aren't reliable is just this..that its so hard and takes so much time to find out what is really happening. Maybe the work you are doing and what I am trying to do brings a depth to issues that truly just in't possible through normal media.? Through my practice (of posting what I find in my own search at my blog with links and quotes etc. etc.) I have found many others around the world are doing the same and I find their work at their blogs very enlightening and enriching.
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        Apr 27 2011: Hi Lindsay, it's hard for me to speak about these vehicles of communication you cited cause i'm from Brasil, i usually read medias from here. For international events, i usually read two or three specialists i like, brazilians tho, like Demetrio Magnoli (specialist in International Relations). Generic popular journals don't explains things deeply and they can't do it cause they will lose their regular reader's, who can't stop for hours reading deep analysis.

        I don't have a blog yet, cause i think i'm not fully prepared to be doing that. I intend to do it very soon and i think it's very enriching for internet community having blogs like yours.

        Another rich source of information is google academics, i've made many works based on articles stored there. Are you a student? I think i can contribute with something sometimes, like references or interesting quotes.
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          Apr 28 2011: so true mario, thanks "Generic popular journals don't explains things deeply and they can't do it cause they will lose their regular reader's, who can't stop for hours reading deep analysis."it is work ..I agree..and I am glad you too feel it is important work and that you too are about that work
  • Apr 25 2011: It depends on what world event I want to know about... the BBC, via NPR, is useful for current and developing events, as well as other NPR or PRI productions. World financial information I glean from various professional sites (i.e. AICPA delivers a "CPA letter daily" email with roughly ten pertinent and relevant articles.)

    American Press?? Fox, CNN, network agencies? Only with the firm understanding that I must consider the sources' bias. And they are definiately biased.

    Politicians... family... not at all. Rarely is their information factual or objective. Though, its usually one or the other that tips me off to my own discovery of some important event.

    Then, for depth... I wait until the book comes out .. (Blackhawk Down, The Good Soldiers, A Captian's Duty...) And I likely check it out from the library because I am a cheapskate.
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    Apr 25 2011: I tend to not to completely trust what is said on national television and I usually don't watch the news on t.v. I listen to the public radio here in France as well as NPR on the web. I read the International Herald Trib, the Nation and the New York Times. I try to see the Daily Show often. Sometimes I'll look up a subject on TED. If I'm looking for information, I'll look it up on the web and appreciate the way a story is treated across several platforms. I think that the limit for any journalist or writer, is that each has formed his or her own opinion about the subject written and that opinion comes out in the article or interview. As far as "trade-offs" are concerned, it's pretty time-consuming to have to compare different news sources and it is pricey to subscribe to 4 or 5 different newspapers online.

    I like to ask someone what they think about a certain subject and discuss it. As a result, many locals think that I have a big mouth.
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    Apr 24 2011: I trust people who have real life experience AND who have studied the phenomena. Personal experience alone doesn't do it for me unless they have also studied the literature and the experiences of others to put their own experiences in context. So I guess that means that I would most trust teams made up of first hand experiencers and researchers to balance the observations.
    I really want the press to step up to the plate and reclaim their societal position of rebalancing the scales of justice and information against all of the forces that force them into silence. I want the press to have the courage of Wikileaks without the bagage. That would be the source that I would trust to help me understand world events. (I guess I want the editors and the legal departments to get out of the way of the journalists and photojournalists who care so much about the truth that they put their lives in danger and even lose them.)
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    Apr 24 2011: A wonderful question. Do we really still need to rely on who we already know or what we already read or watch to seek the truth or can we find it for ourselves?.My experience is that the internet has evolved to avery high level ..we can go find the answers for ourselves..I have just started doing that when It have a strong sense that the media, our leaders, our journalists aren't telling the truth or don't get thhe truth. As long as we reach out openly, without a pre-conceived idea about what the truth might be..it won't take long to find it. One of my blogs is about what I capture through this process and amazingly I have found that there are people all over the wolrd doing the same thing.. Somehow just tthe process of seeking beyond who and what I already know is energizing and trasnformational.
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    Apr 24 2011: I listen to NPR at night because the voices are soothing. I listen to FOX because it's far more entertaining than CNN. I listen to local news for the weather. I watch RT and other international news to see what the rest of the world is saying. I watch TED in hopes of hearing the 'jaw dropping' or 'inspirational' topic. Whom do I trust to give me unbiased news - none of the above. I do, however, sort through what I've heard and figure the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    My favorite information is facts and figures, THAT INCLUDES crititcal relational information.