Mar 27 2013
Researching Your Research
Imagine how difficult completing a simple research project was back in our parents’ day when there was no such thing as the Internet. In those times, the only way to get information, if you did not know some one who already had your answer, was to pick up a book. That meant hours and hours of pulling books off the shelf, scanning through pages, and taking notes. These days gathering information is one hundred percent easier, faster, and more convenient, but, like everything good, there is a price we must pay. Yes, finding information for our parents was less easy, but at least everything they read was true. These days, anyone can post anything on the Internet, leaving untrue or modified information out on the web. Though much of what we read online is true, there is always the possibility of coming across those fakes and when the credibility of your information has your college gpa on the line, there is no room for errors. Everything must be true, and everything must be perfect.
In this assignment, I will be examining a news website, WBFF FoxBaltimore, for a variety of things, including the website’s liability. I chose this specific news source for various reasons. First, it is unfamiliar to me; to properly test a source for liability I feel it is easiest when one knows nothing about it before hand, leaving for an unbiased look on the information. Second, is that an actual news website is going to be a common website people will turn to when seeking information. Lastly, though it is more of a personal reason, of the choices given, it would be the most interesting to work with an actual news website.
To start the break down of the website, the main question, and most important, is to determine if the authors information is trustable. Being that this is an actual real time news website I think it is safe to assume the articles and stories are true. Though some news stories turn out later on to be false, it is not the news’s fault necessarily. News reporters simply gather information from the people interviewed and write accordingly to that, if the one interviewed gives false information there really is not much the news can do but to later correct it.
Next, one is to look for a motive in the websites existence, or find out why it is publishing this information. One must try and see if the web page makes sense and make sure it is not something randomly created. Again, since WBFF is an actual news station it only makes sense for the company to have a website. The website is linked to an actual television station, so this means whatever is posted on air gets posted or written about on this website. WBFF is associated with Fox, a big time news corporation, and it is required by them to include all aired information on the website. Basically, it is clear to see the existence of this website.
Then, one is to look for what the author of the information might gain from posting this information. Fox News always posts aired information on the website simply because it is convenient for the viewers. Television shows get more money and higher rankings based on the amount of viewers it has. Because Fox posts its televised stories online as well, the company increases the amount of viewers’ satisfaction thus resulting in them watching Fox News channels. Aside from that, all people can agree that better organized more customer-convenient business get a better reputation, something all business hold valuable.
Afterward, it is necessary to see what exactly the information is, whether it is a fact or opinion. This is important to distinguish because opinions are never a good idea to use in research papers. Opinions tend to be what an individual thinks, not actual facts. In the case of analyzing a news channel website, the information posted is stories and interviews. Though the news story or interview may be all fact versus opinion, it is very likely one sees the interviewee’s opinion to the situation. However, usually those parts of the news story are irrelevant, and left unread or disregarded in the research of information process.
Subsequently, one must find out if the information addresses both sides fairly. This is something the news media, in particular, is bashed for, so keep a sharp eye out. Simply seeing the opinions or words from both sides in a story is a pretty safe indication of equality on sides, and yes, this Fox website does contain a few.
Consequently, the search for independent sources to back up claims is next. An independent source is basically a source within you source. More specifically, one is looking to see if the author used further information to create the written information. Signs of this are also another way of testing for liable information. In the news website, since the information is gathered via interview, the only sources that could exist would be the interviewee names and dates which are included in the ticker of every televised story, and at the beginning of every publication.
Now, on must look to see if the information is possibly “too good to be true”. If one thinks they have found a gold mine of specific information it might be wise to further analyze the information. This is probably the most common block to online researchers, but because the source I am analyzing is a news website, the term “too good to be true” cannot really apply. Obviously, since the information posted in the news is not false it makes it impossible to be “too good to be true”.
Finally, one must check the websites activity. Chances are if things have not been updated, modified, or changed recently then the website is abandoned leaving it susceptible to having false information. Again with this news source, unless Fox goes out of business or the channel gets shut down, there is no reason for it to be abandoned. In fact, news channel websites are the exact opposite of abandoned. The news corporation has an entire separate department just for the website, which means it is constantly changing. Aside from the information itself, advertisements, weather windows, and pop-ups are also constantly changing bring the website life.
WBFF FoxBaltimore. Fox News, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
How To Evaluate Web Pages. UC Berkeley Library, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.