full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Damon Brown: How to choose your news

Unscramble the Blue Letters

How do you know what's hnenipapg in your wrlod? The amount of information just a click away may be limitless, but the time and energy we have to absorb and evaluate it is not. All the information in the world won't be very useful unless you know how to read the news. To your grandparents, parents, or even older siblings, this idea would have sounded srntgae. Only a few decades ago, news was broad-based. Your choices were lietimd to a cloupe of general iretnset magazines and newspaper of rerocd, and three or four TV networks where trusted newscasters delivered the day's news at the same railelbe time every evening. But the problems with this system soon became aeprpant as mass media saperd. While it was known that authoritarian countries controlled and censored information, a series of scandals showed that dcmeitoarc governments were also misleading the public, often with media cooperation. Revelations of covert wars, secret assassinations, and political corruption undermined public faith in official narratives presented by mainstream sources. This breakdown of trust in media gatekeepers lead to alternative nsreapwpes, radio shows, and cable news competing with the mjoar outlets and covering events from various perspectives. More recently, the Internet has multiplied the amount of information and viewpoints, with social media, blogs, and online video turning every citizen into a potential reporter. But if everyone is a reporter, nobody is, and different sources may disagree, not only opinions, but on the facts themselves. So how do you get the truth, or something close? One of the best ways is to get the original news unfiltered by middlemen. Instead of articles interpreting a scientific study or a politician's speech, you can often find the actual material and jgdue for yourself. For current events, follow reporters on social media. During major enevts, such as the Arab Spring or the Ukrainian protests, nstcweearss and bloggers have posted uaedpts and recordings from the mdsit of the chaos. Though many of these later appear in articles or broadcasts, keep in mind that these polished vionrses often combine the voice of the person who was there with the input of editors who weren't. At the same time, the more chaotic the story, the less you should try to follow it in real time. In events like terrorist attacks and naaurtl disasters, today's media attempts continuous coverage even when no reliable new information is available, sometimes leading to incorrect information or false accusations of innocent people. It's easy to be aixunos in such events, but try checking for the latest information at several points in the day, rather than every few minutes, allowing time for complete datiels to emerge and fasle rerpots to be refuted. While good journalism aims for objectivity, mdeia bias is often unavoidable. When you can't get the direct sroty, read coverage in multiple outlets which eplmoy different reporters and iteirnvew different experts. tinung in to various sources and noting the differences lets you put the pieces together for a more complete pctruie. It's also ccrauil to separate fact from opinion. Words like think, likely, or probably mean that the outlet is being careful or, wsroe, taking a guess. And watch out for reports that rely on anonymous sources. These could be pelpoe who have little connection to the story, or have an interest in influencing coverage, their anonymity making them unaccountable for the iomoitfrnan they provide. Finally, and most importantly, try to virfey news before spreading it. While saciol media has enabled the truth to reach us fsaetr, it's also allowed rumors to spread before they can be verified and falsehoods to survive long after they've been refuted. So, before you share that unbelievable or outrageous news item, do a web search to find any additional information or context you might have msseid and what others are saying about it. tdoay, we are more free than ever from the old media gatekeepers who used to control the flow of information. But with foedrem comes responsibility: the responsibility to curate our own enirepcexe and ensure that this flow does not become a flood, leviang us less informed than before we took the plunge.

Open Cloze

How do you know what's _________ in your _____? The amount of information just a click away may be limitless, but the time and energy we have to absorb and evaluate it is not. All the information in the world won't be very useful unless you know how to read the news. To your grandparents, parents, or even older siblings, this idea would have sounded _______. Only a few decades ago, news was broad-based. Your choices were _______ to a ______ of general ________ magazines and newspaper of ______, and three or four TV networks where trusted newscasters delivered the day's news at the same ________ time every evening. But the problems with this system soon became ________ as mass media ______. While it was known that authoritarian countries controlled and censored information, a series of scandals showed that __________ governments were also misleading the public, often with media cooperation. Revelations of covert wars, secret assassinations, and political corruption undermined public faith in official narratives presented by mainstream sources. This breakdown of trust in media gatekeepers lead to alternative __________, radio shows, and cable news competing with the _____ outlets and covering events from various perspectives. More recently, the Internet has multiplied the amount of information and viewpoints, with social media, blogs, and online video turning every citizen into a potential reporter. But if everyone is a reporter, nobody is, and different sources may disagree, not only opinions, but on the facts themselves. So how do you get the truth, or something close? One of the best ways is to get the original news unfiltered by middlemen. Instead of articles interpreting a scientific study or a politician's speech, you can often find the actual material and _____ for yourself. For current events, follow reporters on social media. During major ______, such as the Arab Spring or the Ukrainian protests, ___________ and bloggers have posted _______ and recordings from the _____ of the chaos. Though many of these later appear in articles or broadcasts, keep in mind that these polished ________ often combine the voice of the person who was there with the input of editors who weren't. At the same time, the more chaotic the story, the less you should try to follow it in real time. In events like terrorist attacks and _______ disasters, today's media attempts continuous coverage even when no reliable new information is available, sometimes leading to incorrect information or false accusations of innocent people. It's easy to be _______ in such events, but try checking for the latest information at several points in the day, rather than every few minutes, allowing time for complete _______ to emerge and _____ _______ to be refuted. While good journalism aims for objectivity, _____ bias is often unavoidable. When you can't get the direct _____, read coverage in multiple outlets which ______ different reporters and _________ different experts. ______ in to various sources and noting the differences lets you put the pieces together for a more complete _______. It's also _______ to separate fact from opinion. Words like think, likely, or probably mean that the outlet is being careful or, _____, taking a guess. And watch out for reports that rely on anonymous sources. These could be ______ who have little connection to the story, or have an interest in influencing coverage, their anonymity making them unaccountable for the ___________ they provide. Finally, and most importantly, try to ______ news before spreading it. While ______ media has enabled the truth to reach us ______, it's also allowed rumors to spread before they can be verified and falsehoods to survive long after they've been refuted. So, before you share that unbelievable or outrageous news item, do a web search to find any additional information or context you might have ______ and what others are saying about it. _____, we are more free than ever from the old media gatekeepers who used to control the flow of information. But with _______ comes responsibility: the responsibility to curate our own __________ and ensure that this flow does not become a flood, _______ us less informed than before we took the plunge.

Solution

  1. happening
  2. interest
  3. apparent
  4. verify
  5. information
  6. judge
  7. limited
  8. anxious
  9. interview
  10. media
  11. spread
  12. reports
  13. events
  14. major
  15. updates
  16. freedom
  17. reliable
  18. picture
  19. missed
  20. social
  21. newspapers
  22. newscasters
  23. versions
  24. record
  25. today
  26. false
  27. leaving
  28. worse
  29. couple
  30. experience
  31. crucial
  32. natural
  33. people
  34. strange
  35. faster
  36. details
  37. world
  38. midst
  39. tuning
  40. democratic
  41. story
  42. employ

Original Text

How do you know what's happening in your world? The amount of information just a click away may be limitless, but the time and energy we have to absorb and evaluate it is not. All the information in the world won't be very useful unless you know how to read the news. To your grandparents, parents, or even older siblings, this idea would have sounded strange. Only a few decades ago, news was broad-based. Your choices were limited to a couple of general interest magazines and newspaper of record, and three or four TV networks where trusted newscasters delivered the day's news at the same reliable time every evening. But the problems with this system soon became apparent as mass media spread. While it was known that authoritarian countries controlled and censored information, a series of scandals showed that democratic governments were also misleading the public, often with media cooperation. Revelations of covert wars, secret assassinations, and political corruption undermined public faith in official narratives presented by mainstream sources. This breakdown of trust in media gatekeepers lead to alternative newspapers, radio shows, and cable news competing with the major outlets and covering events from various perspectives. More recently, the Internet has multiplied the amount of information and viewpoints, with social media, blogs, and online video turning every citizen into a potential reporter. But if everyone is a reporter, nobody is, and different sources may disagree, not only opinions, but on the facts themselves. So how do you get the truth, or something close? One of the best ways is to get the original news unfiltered by middlemen. Instead of articles interpreting a scientific study or a politician's speech, you can often find the actual material and judge for yourself. For current events, follow reporters on social media. During major events, such as the Arab Spring or the Ukrainian protests, newscasters and bloggers have posted updates and recordings from the midst of the chaos. Though many of these later appear in articles or broadcasts, keep in mind that these polished versions often combine the voice of the person who was there with the input of editors who weren't. At the same time, the more chaotic the story, the less you should try to follow it in real time. In events like terrorist attacks and natural disasters, today's media attempts continuous coverage even when no reliable new information is available, sometimes leading to incorrect information or false accusations of innocent people. It's easy to be anxious in such events, but try checking for the latest information at several points in the day, rather than every few minutes, allowing time for complete details to emerge and false reports to be refuted. While good journalism aims for objectivity, media bias is often unavoidable. When you can't get the direct story, read coverage in multiple outlets which employ different reporters and interview different experts. Tuning in to various sources and noting the differences lets you put the pieces together for a more complete picture. It's also crucial to separate fact from opinion. Words like think, likely, or probably mean that the outlet is being careful or, worse, taking a guess. And watch out for reports that rely on anonymous sources. These could be people who have little connection to the story, or have an interest in influencing coverage, their anonymity making them unaccountable for the information they provide. Finally, and most importantly, try to verify news before spreading it. While social media has enabled the truth to reach us faster, it's also allowed rumors to spread before they can be verified and falsehoods to survive long after they've been refuted. So, before you share that unbelievable or outrageous news item, do a web search to find any additional information or context you might have missed and what others are saying about it. Today, we are more free than ever from the old media gatekeepers who used to control the flow of information. But with freedom comes responsibility: the responsibility to curate our own experience and ensure that this flow does not become a flood, leaving us less informed than before we took the plunge.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
media gatekeepers 2
social media 2

Important Words

  1. absorb
  2. accusations
  3. actual
  4. additional
  5. aims
  6. allowed
  7. allowing
  8. alternative
  9. amount
  10. anonymity
  11. anonymous
  12. anxious
  13. apparent
  14. arab
  15. articles
  16. assassinations
  17. attacks
  18. attempts
  19. authoritarian
  20. bias
  21. bloggers
  22. blogs
  23. breakdown
  24. broadcasts
  25. cable
  26. careful
  27. censored
  28. chaos
  29. chaotic
  30. checking
  31. choices
  32. citizen
  33. click
  34. close
  35. combine
  36. competing
  37. complete
  38. connection
  39. context
  40. continuous
  41. control
  42. controlled
  43. cooperation
  44. corruption
  45. countries
  46. couple
  47. coverage
  48. covering
  49. covert
  50. crucial
  51. curate
  52. current
  53. day
  54. decades
  55. delivered
  56. democratic
  57. details
  58. differences
  59. direct
  60. disagree
  61. disasters
  62. easy
  63. editors
  64. emerge
  65. employ
  66. enabled
  67. energy
  68. ensure
  69. evaluate
  70. evening
  71. events
  72. experience
  73. experts
  74. fact
  75. facts
  76. faith
  77. false
  78. falsehoods
  79. faster
  80. finally
  81. find
  82. flood
  83. flow
  84. follow
  85. free
  86. freedom
  87. gatekeepers
  88. general
  89. good
  90. governments
  91. grandparents
  92. guess
  93. happening
  94. idea
  95. importantly
  96. incorrect
  97. influencing
  98. information
  99. informed
  100. innocent
  101. input
  102. interest
  103. internet
  104. interpreting
  105. interview
  106. item
  107. journalism
  108. judge
  109. latest
  110. lead
  111. leading
  112. leaving
  113. lets
  114. limited
  115. limitless
  116. long
  117. magazines
  118. mainstream
  119. major
  120. making
  121. mass
  122. material
  123. media
  124. middlemen
  125. midst
  126. mind
  127. minutes
  128. misleading
  129. missed
  130. multiple
  131. multiplied
  132. narratives
  133. natural
  134. networks
  135. news
  136. newscasters
  137. newspaper
  138. newspapers
  139. noting
  140. objectivity
  141. official
  142. older
  143. online
  144. opinion
  145. opinions
  146. original
  147. outlet
  148. outlets
  149. outrageous
  150. parents
  151. people
  152. person
  153. perspectives
  154. picture
  155. pieces
  156. plunge
  157. points
  158. polished
  159. political
  160. posted
  161. potential
  162. presented
  163. problems
  164. protests
  165. provide
  166. public
  167. put
  168. radio
  169. reach
  170. read
  171. real
  172. record
  173. recordings
  174. refuted
  175. reliable
  176. rely
  177. reporter
  178. reporters
  179. reports
  180. responsibility
  181. revelations
  182. rumors
  183. scandals
  184. scientific
  185. search
  186. secret
  187. separate
  188. series
  189. share
  190. showed
  191. shows
  192. siblings
  193. social
  194. sounded
  195. sources
  196. speech
  197. spread
  198. spreading
  199. spring
  200. story
  201. strange
  202. study
  203. survive
  204. system
  205. terrorist
  206. time
  207. today
  208. trust
  209. trusted
  210. truth
  211. tuning
  212. turning
  213. tv
  214. ukrainian
  215. unaccountable
  216. unavoidable
  217. unbelievable
  218. undermined
  219. unfiltered
  220. updates
  221. verified
  222. verify
  223. versions
  224. video
  225. viewpoints
  226. voice
  227. wars
  228. watch
  229. ways
  230. web
  231. words
  232. world
  233. worse