With the digital revolution or the information age information is more accessible than ever. It also became easier to share information with others and to be one of the many voices of the choir that is called the internet. Before the internet if you wanted to read valuable content you bought a newspaper of a famous brand, a book or a magazine. You bought something written by people who you would trust to have a certain standard of how to produce excellent content. Content that is not only well written but has some underlying research. Content of high quality standards.
The situation today
Today everyone can share content. As a result the subscriptions of famous newspapers or news outlets are decreasing every year. Although media companies finally understand how to use digital media, single people on Twitter have bigger audiences today than multiple media companies combined. That is crazy because it also means that the content people read is more and more profane or not necessarily checked by an editorial department to ensure a high quality standard. Is that a problem? To be honest, I don’t know but for me personally it raises one big question.
Which sources can I trust
Because content is so easy to produce and share these days it is impossible to read everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in the news or specific subjects, you always have a gazillion opinions or articles to choose from. But how am I able to find content that is worth reading? Another issue that people often tend to forget is that media companies often publish content with their own profit or agenda in mind. Most media companies in Germany for example are owned by wealthy families or better dynasties – who say that they work for the public, of course, but is that really so? Apart from media companies there are new digital products like Medium that invite everyone to write and share their own content. More often than not I find articles that are not only well written but also well-researched. But to really determine the quality of the content I feel I lack some background knowledge and wisdom. What a difficult situation.
What to make out of this
When it comes to the news of everyday we still depend on bigger media companies that have the power and the network to send independent journalists to every part of the world to produce valuable news coverage, opinion pieces and reports. The thing is, not necessarily the media company is important here, but the journalist herself. She is the one that writes the content and she is the one who decides from which angle a story should be covered. The same is true for the web. If you want to understand which content is valuable, take a look at the people who write the stories. The authors probably have an account on LinkedIn so you could check what they do currently or what they have done before and that gives you an idea of how credible they might be. As an example, if you read a story on Medium of how to found the perfect start up and the founder is 22 years old and just has one internship on his résumé, the credibility of the story is doubtful. Furthermore it makes sense to read two or three stories on one topic to get a broader perspective. Sometimes, when a story is really interesting and I’m hooked I tend to forget that there might be different opinions on the topic. To say it in another way – it’s always better to have seen the whole movie before making comments about the poor storytelling.
To sum up
It’s more honest and trustworthy to say that you don’t know something than pretending that you do.
With the amount of information being published everyday it’s harder than ever before to find good content. In order to know whether content is good and worth your time make sure to not only read one perspective on a topic. Selection is important. Follow journalists or writers you can trust, see what they’ve worked on, get to know their personal stories and perspectives. And don’t read everything. Avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there. It’s OK if you don’t know everything. Rather specialize and find topics that you find interesting and become an expert in them. It’s more honest and trustworthy to say that you don’t know something than pretending that you do.