When is information reliable?
Reliability of information refers to the extent to which we can rely on the source of the data and, therefore, the data itself.
CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIABLE SOURCES
- Trustworthy (sure)
- Consistent, unfailing and dependable
- Authentic and genuine (no echo chamber)
- Reputable (long-standing reputation of excellence)
A question to ask is: Is the information contradicted in (other) trusted sources? If it’s an outliner, the information can still be correct, but it should set off some alarm bells.
Yet, what if all the information sources you rely on are corrupted? Typically, that is what happens in an echo chamber: you hear similar information from several sources. Due to microtargeting techniques, almost everybody is stuck in their own echo chamber to a certain extent. Therefore, it is necessary to recalibrate the reliability of your trusted sources regularly.
We’ll dive deeper into these characteristics of reliable sources in the MEDIA LITERACY COURSE – you can pre-register for this course.
ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
The reputation of the information source is crucial. Therefore, damaging the reputation and credibility of journalists, the press, and independent media as a whole is a powerful technique to undermine the influence of critical voices.
Meanwhile, it is good to realise that no media is completely independent.
SOME INDICATORS OF RELIABILITY
- Agenda (is the information advancing someone’s agenda, who could benefit – that’s often not an easy question to answer, it’s a complex world)
- Likelihood of impartiality (look at funding of the source, whoever pays the piper often calls the tune: murky financing is often a sign of a hidden agenda)
- Proximity to events (coming from an identifiable participant or observer, or unverified, unsubstantiated hearsay).