Hi, I'm Bill Adair. In this unit, we're focusing on how citizens influence politics. In this module, I'll be talking about how you can stay informed. A little bit about me. I studied political science at Arizona State University, and worked as a reporter and editor for 25 years, most of that time in Washington. I covered the White House, Congress, and the US Supreme Court. I'm best known as the creator of PolitiFact, the fact-checking website. At Sanford, I'm the Knight professor of the practice of journalism and public policy. I teach news writing and reporting, and our ethics class, news, as a moral battleground. I'm also the director of Sanford's journalism program. My research focuses on fact-checking and how we can use technology to automate journalism. To influence politics, it's critical that citizens be informed. That's easier than ever today, thanks to the internet. We have access to more information than ever, but there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Although there's a tremendous amount of information out there, it can be easy to get a distorted view of government and politics. You need to be a smart consumer of information and news. In this presentation, I'm going to explore the importance of journalism in a democracy, and why the media is such a critical watchdog at all levels of government. I'm also going to give you a consumer's guide to the different types of journalism sites, as well as the different types of articles and blog posts. And finally, I'm going to give you some suggestions about how you can make sure you get a diverse range of information sources. The news media plays a critical role, not just in telling you what your elected officials are doing, but also in holding public officials accountable. The most basic news coverage is government reporting. Reporters often sit through long, sometimes, boring meetings. So, they can tell you what your government is doing. I think of these reporters as being your eyes and ears. They watch the government on your behalf. If they don't watch, you don't know what your government did. The news media holds government officials accountable for what they say and do. This often gets forgotten, particularly, when one party criticizes the media, but this is a fundamental service that journalists provide. Reporters tell you what public officials and candidates are doing and saying. And fact checkers monitor their statements and publish articles, analyzing the accuracy of political claims. Other journalists examine the public documents, the politicians must file, such as lists of campaign contributors and financial disclosure forms. Their journalism reveals when there is a possible conflict of interest. It's easy to take these things for granted. You may not always see the important coverage of your elected officials, especially at the local level, but the coverage is crucial so citizens know what their government is doing. To understand the media's role, we need to distinguish the different types of journalism, and the various types of news organizations. Some people often have a tendency to blur them together and call some of them biased, but that's often because people do not understand the different forms of journalism. I think of journalism on a spectrum from pure news to opinion. On the far left of this chart, we have objective news stories. This group includes articles that do not have a particular perspective. The articles generally include comments from people with different perspectives, but the stories themselves are objective. This group includes routine news coverage of politics in government. The reporters tell you what happened, but do not take a position on it and do not provide much analysis. In the middle, are articles with more of a perspective. This includes what we call news analysis, in which the journalist interprets the news but does not explicitly advocate a pro or con position on an issue. It also includes fact-checking, like we do with PolitiFact, to research and rate the accuracy of a politician's claim. At the far right, are opinion columns, articles by writers who take a position on a person or issue. I avoid using the term bias because it is overused, it has a negative connotation, and it means different things to different people. But in fact, all opinion articles are biased. They take a position, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's also important to understand the different types of journalism outlets so you can be a smart consumer of the media. I use a continuum to explain the outlets, too. On the far left of this chart, are objective news sites. This includes wire services, such as the Associated Press and Reuters. It also includes most newspapers, not just the national ones, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, but also local and regional papers, such as the Raleigh News and Observer. But you should keep in mind that a newspaper includes different types of articles, not just objective news, but also analysis and opinion articles. That's what often leads to allegations of bias. Some people believe that because a publication has columnists from one point of view, it means that the news coverage also comes from that same viewpoint. But most newspapers and wire services have separate staffs for news and opinion, and their news coverage is objective. In the middle of this continuum, are issue sites, such as those that cover a particular topics, such as technology or finance. This group would include Recode, a site that covers tech; and courts, a business and finance site. These sites report the news, but they often provide more analysis in their coverage. On the far right, are what I call strong opinion sites, which include organizations like Huffington Post, which is generally liberal. And the Weekly Standard, which is conservative. But keep in mind that even a strong opinion site will sometimes carry a pure news article. You should also remember that there are different types of journalism organizations that offer very different types of content. Some are for profit companies that mostly offer objective journalism, such as newspapers and wire services. Others are non-profits that generally have an objective approach, such as the Texas Tribune. And some are philosophically aligned with one side in politics, such as Huffington Post, or The Weekly Standard. Now, for some tips about your own media consumption. To understand what our elected officials are doing, I think it's important to get a healthy mix of news and opinion. You are probably familiar with the food pyramid which illustrates a balanced diet. The bottom part of the pyramid should be a foundation of breads, cereal, and pasta. At the top, are fats and sweets which you should consume sparingly. A pyramid is also a good way to think about a healthy diet of news and commentary. The foundation, the media equivalent of bread and rice, should be objective news. This is important because the objective news usually includes quotes from people with differing points of view. This ensures you're not getting into a filter bubble, where you're only hearing from people who share your viewpoint. The next level up is news analysis, and what are called reported blogs, which include original reporting but typically are written from one perspective. This includes the blogs I mentioned earlier, such as Recode or Courts. Above that, are opinion columns from writers who share your point` of view. Note, that I make this a smaller share of the pyramid. Don't get too much of this. That ensures you're not getting all of your information from your own echo chamber. You need to hear different points of view. Finally, the top of the pyramid, is opinion columns you disagree with. I encourage my students to read one article everyday that they disagree with. That's all it takes, but it will help you understand a wide range of opinions and perspectives. To learn more about the news media, you can take some of our PJMS courses, such as News as a Moral Battleground, or Newswriting & Reporting. We also have a speaker series called Monuts Friday, in which we bring journalists and people in politics to discuss the role of journalism in our political system. Also, we serve donuts.