Every weekday, BYUradio’s Julie Rose (BA ’97) picks the brains of influential thinkers on current events, science, social issues—whatever people are talking about. Here the Top of Mind host shares how—in a time of division and “fake news”—she gathers trustworthy information.
What inspired Top of Mind?
We felt like people could benefit from a show that seeks to inform, not inflame. If a show gives listeners only the viewpoint they agree with, or if it’s always getting people worked up with emotional rhetoric, there’s no real understanding happening. We wanted to be a place for people to explore all aspects of issues in challenging but respectful conversation.
How do you spot unreliable information?
First of all, if it’s written in a way that makes you react emotionally, be very careful. Misinformation thrives on getting you riled up so you’ll share the story without reading it closely. Also, consider the source: is it a news outlet you’ve heard of before? There are lots of pseudo news websites made to look reputable. People who peddle misinformation want you to believe that they’re the only ones to discover some “shocking” truth. But that’s almost never the case. See if other news outlets are reporting the same story.
If you’re trying to verify a specific fact, try one of the many fact-checking sites out there, like Snopes.com. Even better, look for a primary source. Did a politician really say that? Don’t take a reporter’s word for it. Find a video or transcript of the speech and see for yourself. Finally, beware of stories that are built entirely on anonymous sources. There are good reasons to keep a source anonymous, but the reporter should do it rarely and offer a good reason.
What do you look for in an expert?
My number one rule is No Hot Takes. Cable news shows seem to thrive on experts who are really good at lobbing verbal grenades to rile up the audience or other panelists. Top of Mind needs guests who can engage more deeply.
How do you find impartial sources?
I Google them and note which news outlets are using them as a source. Are they all conservative or liberal? The most credible sources are considered expert by outlets across the political spectrum.