The world abounds with information and news media sources. Indeed, one can now receive updates from around the world in the matter of sixty seconds. Twenty-four hour cable news presents current events and opinions. Newspapers are struggling to keep up with news aggregate websites and other forms of electronic media. With so many options, a researcher must first ask him or herself what type of information they seek before they choose their source.
When seeking out news and current events, the mainstream media outlets tend to be the most viable source of information. However, when delving into analysis and interpretation academic sources shine above the rest. Typically I find myself seeking out two types of information: current news events, and analysis. Current events and analysis differ in distinct ways. Whereas current events can be presented on a purely factual basis without any interpretation, an analysis of those events is necessarily slanted toward the theory or world view being used by the analyst.
For example, a piece of news information may state that a factory explosion resulted in $1,000,000 property damage and the injury of five workers. The analysis of that event may conclude, based on the theory that capital expenditures effect outcomes, that the explosion occurred due to a lack of expenditures by the factory on maintenance and safety measures. For current news events such as a hurricane, factory explosion, or the signing of a new law, the various mainstream media sources suffice.
I find that for events for which there can be little dispute as to their occurrence, such as weather or legislative events, internet, radio, and television sources are typically accurate. However, when these sources venture into analysis and interpretation, they often lose credibility – especially when it comes to political events, which in today’s world can be just about any event. As such, when I seek analysis and interpretation outside of my own perspective I tend to go to academic sources.
Thanks to the still-prevailing culture that the truth shall prevail, academic sources remain considerable when developing one’s analysis. Of course, much like the mainstream media outlets, many academics have a mission or a point to prove and therefore it is important to understand the theory or worldview of the academic in question. The mainstream media is the best source of current events for me because due in large part to communication technology news may now be presented as it unfolds.
This rapidity of delivery makes the mainstream (television, radio, internet) media nearly the only viable source of current events. However, the financial factors contributing to the distribution of news weighs far too heavily in the mainstream media’s analysis of events and, for me, makes them unviable for analysis. As such, I seek out the best source I can find which uses verifiable and documented evidence to support its analysis and interpretations of events. For me, the best source for such quality of information has been academic in nature.
There are a plethora of sources of information these days. Some sources are superior to others depending on the type of information sought. It is wise for a consumer of information to seriously consider the nature of the information sought and the potential conflicts of interest presented by the source. When seeking out current events and basic news, the mainstream media outlets are fairly reliable sources of information. Yet, when an analysis of these events is sought it is better to go to academic sources that are less tainted by advertising needs or satisfying a corporate agenda.