Seeds: Navigating news media is hard, and it always has been. Since the popularization of newspapers and the internet, identifying unreliable sources or faulty stories has become even more challenging. So much so, even reliable sources have fail us, including an article published on this day in 1835.
Core: The article discussed what soon became the Great Moon Hoax. It was published in a newspaper called The Sun in New York (it was considered quite a serious paper) and featured a satire about findings on the moon; a satire that included unicorns and two-legged beavers. Unfortunately, the populace didn’t realize that it was in fact satire, leading to mass confusion, though the newspaper’s sales weren’t negatively impacted.
Skin: Despite the fact that many hoaxes have faulty sources, the public is generally eager to follow the intriguing tales. For example, many believed the Lochness monster was found in 1934, Starbucks was changing their holiday cups in an attempt at “Christian cleansing,” and that many famous celebrities had died.
Leaves: While this is a benign example of people misinterpreting news media, there are more subtle and far more significant misinterpretations today. Instead of people confusing satire for truth (though that does happen too), more often we just don’t realize when we are only being told parts of the story. Especially in America, we are known for being blissfully unaware of World News. While we should be educating ourselves, the media is somewhat to blame. A famous example is the TIME newspaper covers, and how often the American cover is completely different to that of the European, Latin American, and Asian covers.
Food For Thought: What news outlets do you find the most reliable? How do you navigate news?