Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Some Internet 'News Sites' More Reliable Than Others

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Some Internet 'News Sites' More Reliable Than Others

Article excerpt

THE website, theonion.com, has just brought tears to my eyes.

It began with a determination to find out more about a very serious matter, namely the flood of so-called "fake news sites".

At first sight, these sites look and read like genuine news sources.

Some of them look so authentic that even the ABC can be sucked into believing that their content must be genuine.

I decided to find out more after listening to what, I think, was a genuine ABC radio broadcast.

Someone who, I think, was a genuine ABC staffer admitted to being tricked by a particularly distasteful false report of another death at about the time of Michael Jackson's very sad and all too true passing.

With a journalist daughter whose professional life is web news focused, I've got more than a casual interest in knowing what can be believed about stuff coming from worldwide sources.

Are they genuine, maliciously fake or, as in the case of www.theonion.com (http://www.theonion.com), mischievously very funny.

Be warned, however, that, as with the notorious Private Eye print publication in years gone by, "mischievously very funny" can also mean downright bad taste and confronting.

Knowing what to believe is always a challenge.

Whether it's social gossip, web-based encyclopaedias, scientific theories or zealous preachers, the challenge is always there.

Can it be believed?

Is there any basis in fact?

Am I being conned or am I just a needless worry guts?

It all becomes more immediate now that the internet is alive and well, with unseen gurus, decent folk and plenty of fruit loops waiting to convince us that black is white and vice-versa.

It's a great bubbling pot of virtual trivia containing, often when you least expect it, fabulous insights and information sometimes beyond belief.

Talking of trivia, there is always Twitter, and I know I'm on dangerous ground here.

I'm led to believe that Twits, if that's the right group name for the fans, can break news stories worldwide in less time than it takes to draw breath. …

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