Sources, Credibility and Social Media
Social media is an excellent resource to connect people and allows everybody to be contributors to online media content. The nature of the web allows people to post about any subject they are interested in, but it does not make them an expert. Social media has also allowed false stories to be posted and shared. As people see the same information repeatedly, they tend to think it is true. With the speed that media works, sometimes false information can make it to news outlets and be reported to the public as news. An example is in 2012 a blogger posted that the South Carolina governor was going to be indicted on fraud charges, but it was not true. The blogger just recently apologized, but it was too late for the elections (Hall, 2013). If a reader of this blog had critically evaluated the sources, they would have uncovered the truth.
One needs to critically examine blogs and articles before they accept the details in them as fact. Providing an example of how to evaluate an article’s source may explain the process further. There are several ways to evaluate the credibility of web resources and they include examining the author’s credentials, seeing if the author has peer reviewed articles, examining what organizations the author is associated with and looking at what type of website is the article posted (Montecino, 1998).
The article evaluated is a December 2015 Huffington Post article titled “Inside a Chinese Coding Boot Camp” (Sheehan, 2015). This is a news article about how there is a movement in China to teach students to learn to write code for programs. The article discusses how the current Chinese educational system and government support memorization as the primary form of learning, but writing code is a different skill. The author of this article is Matt Sheehan. Researching this author online on a Google search, one finds that he is from the US but has lived in China for the past five years. He is a regular contributor to the World Post and has a blog about China (China file website) He is a freelance journalist with a degree in political science and a translator. Most of his publications are in the Huffington Post and he does not have any peer reviewed articles (LinkedIn). Based on the information about the author, he does appear to have advanced knowledge and understanding about China. He appears to be a regular news contributor. This author is a credible source for this article.
Another component is examining the website on which this article was posted. This article was found on the Huffington Post website. Researching Huffington Post, one finds out that the website is a news aggregator and a blog (Wikipedia). News from “non-professionals” such as bloggers may or may not be as accurate as information from journalists. As mentioned above, researching the author is key to determining if the blogger has appropriate credentials. The news aggregator portion of Huffington Post most likely will have more authority on subjects (Monetcino, 1998). One may want to consider if an article on Huffington Post is a blog or a news story. In this case, the article researched was on the World Post News portion of the Huffington Post. The World Post strives to post news articles from both known and unknown journalists to help people get a world view (The Guardian). Since this article is in this section, it can be considered a reliable news story.
This article is a reliable resource on China based on research. Reaching this conclusion took a moderate amount of time and lead to reading many different online resources. This highlights, that as a consumer of the web, it is not simple to determine a blog or articles credibility. If one is a journalist, it is their responsibility to do due diligence and complete this research before any information is released to the public as fact.
China File website Matt Sheehan Retrieved on January 5, 2016 from https://www.chinafile.com/contributors/matt-sheehan
The Guardian World Post News Website Launches. Retrieved on January 5, 2016 from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jan/08/world-post-news-website-launches-huffington
Hall, R. (2013) Idiot Blogger Finally Apologies for false Report He Posted in the 2012 Election. Retrieved on January 5, 2016 from http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/randy-hall/2013/11/13/idiot-blogger-finally-apologizes-false-report-he-posted-during-2012-elec
LinkedIn Matt Sheehan Retrieved on January 5, 2016 from https://www.linkedin.com/in/msheehan2
Montecino, V. (1998) Helpful Hints to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources. Retrieved on January 5, 2016 from http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm
Sheehan, M. (2015) Inside a Chinese coding Boot Camp Retrieved on December 30 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/inside-a-chinese-coding-boot-camp_5682794ee4b0b958f65a59e0?ir=WorldPost§ion=world
Wikipedia. Huffington Post Retrieved on January 5, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Huffington_Post