Tips for verifying accurate information and ethical storytelling on the internet.
Aspiring journalists and informed citizens today will find locating reliable, accurate sources of information to be especially difficult. Unlike vintage research practices which relied on printed encyclopedias and scholarly journals for information, Google and other search algorithms prioritize website performance, content freshness & popularity over accuracy. While this has empowered many journalists who did not have a platform previously, and has made information more readily available to the general public, it has also led to misinformation spreading like wildfire. Social media platforms have become the gasoline to that wildfire, since posts can be promoted by purchasing an ad regardless of that posts accuracy. Online, a study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than the truth. This makes purchasing a social media ad a very good investment if you’re looking to spread fake news.
Conspiracy theories have been around well before the internet. I can imagine it must have been more difficult to debunk a conspiracy theory back then. However, now that we have the world at our fingertips, there is no excuse to just blindly believe whatever you hear. The results of that laziness can be dangerous. “Conspiracy theories cause real harm to people, to their health, and also to their physical safety”, according to the UNESCO Director-General. “They amplify and legitimize misconceptions and reinforce stereotypes which can fuel violence and violent extremist ideologies”. In 2020, we saw a rise in conspiracy theories related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and vaccine efficacy as well. Considering the social distancing restrictions during this time, one could deduce that these conspiracy theories and misinformation about the pandemic were not spread by word of mouth. This wouldn’t be a good article on verifying information if we just took that assumption as fact. According to a study by the PEW research center, 64% of US adults say social media has a mostly negative effect on this country today. Roughly three-in-ten (28%) of those respondents cite misinformation and made-up news as the reason.
Just because the internet and social media offers a convenient method for research and information sharing, doesn’t mean it is all bad. Here are some ways to fact check online information for yourself and become an ethical news source for your network.
1. Is all content created equal?
According to Social Media Today, videos get more views, engagement and response than any other social posting option (text, links, photo or audio). If you are guilty of enjoying videos more than reading articles, you’re not alone. YouTube ranked highest (59%) as a preferred learning tool among Gen Z participants in a 2018 Pearson Global Research & Insights study. This is not surprising considering that YouTube is perceived as the fastest learning method available today. The important word in that last sentence is perceived. Keep in mind that anyone with a free Google account can create and upload videos. Similarly, podcasts can be added to iTunes and Spotify for free. Just because a video takes a long time and some skill to produce, does not mean the author or host adheres to ethical journalistic standards. You should fact check and scrutinize information from multimedia content the same way you do for print.
2. Question the author’s authority on the subject matter
When consuming content that you find online, ask yourself the following questions:
3. Question the content sources
If an article is written with not one outside source, quote or data set, that’s a pretty good clue that it’s just an opinion piece. Opinions are not fact. Look for hyperlinks in articles and click on those hyperlinks to ensure that a research study or other data source is legitimate.
A common sleight of hand with fake news is to use lots of quotes rather than actual studies or data. A quote-heavy article with just one interview is a red flag, but you can apply the same verification methods as you did with the author, to the person that author is quoting in the article. Just copy and paste the name of a quoted source and look them up on LinkedIn or as a general web query. Does this person have expertise in the subject matter they are speaking on?
4. Any facts or figures should be specific and cited to a source
You should always double-check any specific information in an article before sharing it. This may seem time-consuming and may limit the amount of content you consume. However as you get familiar with the journalistic standards of a certain news organization or author, you'll start to know who you can trust.
Bonus points if you can click on the name of a study or a website directly from the article, the way I do in the first two paragraphs of this article. When an author hyperlinks a part of their article to another website, they are essentially providing you with the citations for where they found that information.
Unfortunately, this means that Instagram is not an ideal source for news. Instagram only allows a link in the profile bio for everyday users. Any image you see with text or information on it, that does not specifically cite the source either in the picture or in that picture’s description, is likely just opinion. It is not easily verifiable information and you should fact check that post before sharing.
5. Content should be fair and balanced
Always beware of an author who takes a definitive stance without providing two sides to the story. Journalistic content should present point and counter point, with equal research so that you can make up your own mind. While headlines may benefit from being shocking (clickbait), the article, video or podcast itself should have more substance.
6. Question yourself
The Guardian defines unconscious bias as “situations where our background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can impact our decisions and actions without us realising.” We can all benefit from questioning why we believe certain things to be true.
For instance, I used to think that articles from newspapers were more legitimate than multimedia content such as videos or podcasts. When I started creating videos and podcasts though, I realized that this is not the case. In fact, it takes me just a few hours to write an article whereas creating a video or podcast can take days. The additional time that goes into creating video doesn’t let multimedia content off the ethical hook. Production time & effort does not correlate with legitimacy of information. My own bias, when questioned, proved to be nonsensical.
How many of your own biases can be debunked if you just take a few minutes to question them?
I am honored to be featured on The Picture House's At Home Education series. Check out this lesson here.
AN AWARD-WINNING INTERVIEW
On Monday we shared tips for conducting a successful documentary interview. Today we have a great example for you — this documentary profile video won an NY Emmy Award for Best Arts Segment. As a digital media piece created for the web, close-up images were used for their ease of visibility on a smartphone’s smaller screen. Also, this video’s length is just under 2.5 minutes to keep the viewer’s attention all the way through — an important consideration for web-based videos. The filmmaker used documentary filmmaking techniques to weave in stories from Sean’s interview with a poetry reading performed in the same room, making creative use of the space. Inspired by Sean’s vibe, the music and transitions were carefully chosen to enhance the mood. Edited with Adobe Premiere and After Effects, this was the first of a series highlighting student award winners at CUNY. The campaign was featured in The New York Post, and on large billboards throughout New York City.
This arts break is brought to you by one of our talented Picture House instructors, Laura Meoli-Ferrigon. We previously shared her Essential Tips for Quality Filmmaking at Home. Budding filmmakers would also appeciate her recent post about video equipment that won’t break the bank.
Watch the video below for my behind the scenes insights and see suggested activities here.
Whether you are recording a lecture, a selfie video for social media or just want to look fabulous in your video meetings, this essential guide explains how to use your webcam or cell phone camera to capture high quality videos that make you look like a pro!
In today’s telecommuting reality, video production has become a responsibility of us all. Not to worry- you don’t have to be a professional cinematographer to make great videos! Most cell phones, laptops and webcams are high quality enough to do a decent job. But that isn’t all that goes into delivering high-quality videos. Here are some tips on how to up your production value from home.
Directing a life you love: ABC News Videographer, Author, Professor & Emmy Winning Director Winston Mitchell
What do I really need to learn to get started in the media industry? Should I join the union to get a union job? How do I stay current in this quickly changing media landscape?
-Answering all those questions and more in this uncensored, exclusive interview my mentor Winston Mitchell
In December 2017, my students at the Boys & Girls Club of New Rochelle (Mascaro Clubhouse) held a fundraiser to help the club in Puerto Rico which was devastated after Hurricane Maria. The 5th grade girls created a documentary film to spread awareness.
To donate to the Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico, please visit bgcpr.org
Here is a look at my personal video equipment recommendations based on years of testing, trial and error. The links provided here are budget-friendly and available online for easy shipping. It is very important for me to find equipment that is not heavy or bulky. These camera items will fit nicely into the backpack provided below. All tripods and lights come with their own easy carrying cases. If you have any specific questions about equipment picks, feel free to contact me. I provide tutoring and training in all aspects of filmmaking, video production and photography.
You can find more tips and tricks on my Instagram page @LoudaVision
Check out this article written by my students about the documentary class I had the pleasure of teaching this past summer. You will also see photos from my recent talk at Sacred Heart Greenwich.
Hello friends! Check me out on the latest Jumble Think Podcast where I chat with the awesome host Michael Woodward about my Freelance Experiment. Take a listen to learn about what's going on with me. He calls me an influencer, dreamer and maker- how cool is that!
We chat about making creativity personal, and how I mix things up as a freelancer. Enjoy!
You can also listen on iTunes, Soundcloud etc- just go to https://www.jumblethink.com/jumblethink-podcast/laura-meoli
Super big thanks to Michael for allowing me to be on this podcast and for the awesome conversation.
Audio equipment is expensive... why spend more than you have to?
Hello. My name is Laura Meoli and I'm the host of the LoudaVision Podcast for creative people. I have created an easy online course to teach you everything about creating your very own podcast. --CLICK HERE to learn more--
When starting my podcast, I was using costly camera equipment.
I believe that we should try out things we want to try, and not let logistics get in the way. As a filmmaker, I have access to camera equipment and microphones, so I used them to start my podcast. There's no wrong answer as long as it works for you.
Eventually, I ended up purchasing microphones and equipment specifically for my podcast.
Here's a list of my equipment recommendations for podcasting.
A personal reminder to WRITE.
As i look back on past blogs, poems, songs… I often feel as if I’m reading it for the first time. Especially when it comes to reflective notes on things I’ve learned through experience. Why are the lessons so much clearer right after I’ve learned it? But seem to fade away seemingly over time.
It reminds me of how we feel after a good vacation, how that relaxation fades over time once we return to the reality of our everyday routine. A refresher is always welcome, and what better refresher than a note to self.
Unless it’s something as deep rooted as my impatience for lateness, which comes from constantly being stood up by my closest friends, as a teenager. Those lessons are instinctual and ingrained in me at this point: I do not wait for people more than 10minutes without being completely pissed. I digress…
The more recent lessons, those dealing with spirituality, perspective and what I know about myself… Those things must be written down for a refresher course in the near future.
I don’t write for money. It’s not my job. I don’t even think I’m good at it (in the formal sense). However, I see the therapeutic benefits of it. When I am called to write, it feels good. It’s not something I can force, rush or even predict.
Looking back at my blogs, I think, “wow that’s great advice”. This reaction is not from a place of ego. I just know ME best.
Who better to give me advice, than me?
I’ve been reading books about creative magic, the power of money, 7 ways to be “successful”… I find most of these books to be full of crap. These authors don’t know me. How do they know my definition of success, creativity, or about my personal relationships? Sure, there are probably studies out there that support these authors’ findings. However…
I’m not interested in living out someone else’s perfect life.
I don’t even know what my perfect life looks like yet. What I do know, is when I start comparing myself to other people, I’m in trouble. Even when I start comparing myself to where I want (or expect) to be, my future self… It doesn’t feel good. Advice about imagining you are the person you want to be, act as if you’ve already achieved all those things… that’s dangerous advice. It can lead to comparison and a feeling that I’m not good enough RIGHT NOW, until I achieve those external things or get to that magic place. We should be happy with who we are right now, today, this moment. Regardless of external achievements, money, other people’s expectations, and all those other things that don’t mean a thing in the grand scheme of it all.
Being in the moment is easier said than done, but what better way to capture a moment of clarity than to write it down?
Here goes, my moment of clarity…
It’s okay to NOT stay on schedule (especially if that schedule is self-imposed). One thing does not have to happen before you can move on to the next. In fact, projects and stages of life tend to flow into one another and working on one thing can even help you get the knowledge or motivation to complete another. If your creativity wants to bounce you from one project to the next, don’t fight it! Go with the flow. Ride the wave. Insert more cliches here.
You are only responsible to yourself. You don’t need permission to take a break from something. Even if you have people asking about the progress… No one really cares or even remembers what you’re doing. You’re not letting anyone else down, and you’re not letting yourSELF down. The advice you heard about telling everyone what you’re doing before you do it, for accountability… that’s nonsense. It’s a waste of time to feel guilty, giving excuses to others or asking permission to take a break from something that you’re doing for you.
The measure of success is not the completion, it’s the trying (and the lesson). Do what you are passionate about in the moment. Embrace what your heart wants to play with. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t impose deadlines on creative ventures.Just BE.
Truly, from the heart…
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We’ve all heard the cliché tips for goal setting- set small, attainable goals to achieve both short term and long term. There are endless stories that prove this to be true, but this simple advice hasn’t exactly worked for me.
My best friend Alvin is a BEAST when it comes to setting and achieving goals. When I asked him about this, he recommended the book “Think and Grow Rich” then proceeded to show me a framed list of his would-be accomplishments for the next 1 year, 5 years and in his entire lifetime. I was inspired. Who wouldn’t be?
So I attempted to emulate his success by doing the same exercise. But when it was time to write down my goals, I just couldn’t see a clear picture of where I would be in 5 years or even 1. When thinking about my future, there are a few things I assume, but I didn’t have that vision-board-level of clarity that some people do.
As I was struggling with that exercise, I happened to come across a similar list in my files that I had made a few years prior, right after finishing college. Looking at this list might be a really interesting exercise for some, but it depressed me. I had not reached the heights which I had hoped to reach at this point in my life. For example, I wanted to be a teacher, something I had known since my early 20s. Here I am in my late 20s and no progress towards that goal. What would you do in this situation?
I created a new list, then proceeded to feel guilty when I didn’t hit each goal in time. Quite ambitiously, my new list said “Win an Emmy Award” under my 1 year goals. I had set this goal after being nominated, so I was half way there. A goal like this is not one that I could achieve through my own effort. It was completely subject to other people’s opinions of me and a complex judging system where I have absolutely no power to influence. I realize now that was not a good goal to put on my list. When I didn’t win the Emmy award, I lost all gratitude for the nomination itself, which is a huge honor. That framed list of goals became a daily reminder of my failure.
My anxiety snowballed and I began wondering if I would ever achieve ANY of my goals. So for the sake of my own sanity, I threw the list in the garbage.
For some, having a clear vision of their future goal and a timeline for it is a great motivator. But for me, it just doesn’t work.
I prefer to have a list of things to try, a list of possibilities.
Unlike some, I can’t imagine where I’ll be in five years, let alone my entire lifetime.
Daily reminders of how I want to be in each moment is more my-style. I’ll just be surprised and grateful for each achievement as it comes along. Life is much better with surprises.
A list of possibilities rather than goals also gives me the flexibility to try something and analyze how I feel about it. This leaves me open to receive unexpected blessings and opportunities. Just because I haven’t planned something doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.
For example, a recent music video I directed was planned out carefully, but when I discovered a fog machine available for use on set, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to add something special and fun. The band even told me that this was their favorite part of the video. It’s spontaneous things like that, the universe sends as a way to enjoy life. Be playful and embrace the moment.
So for most very successful people, a list of goals may be appropriate, but for me, I’d rather embrace the moment and be happily surprised when big things happen. This is how I manage my anxiety and keep feelings of failure at bay. Do what works for you.
PS- I am nominated for an Emmy Award again this year. Winning is not on my list of things to achieve but I am glad to be creating work that gets the honor of a nomination. You can watch the video here.
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As a filmmaking teacher, I often have to take the elements of a movie and break it down into it’s main story points. It’s like taking an analog watch apart to see how it works. All the moving parts interconnect and fit together in a certain order- to tell a story. The medium (movie, tv show, book, article, poem, etc) should be complimentary to the story, like a wristband on a watch. However, the watch itself and all the moving parts are what make the watch a watch, not the wristband. Otherwise it’s just a bracelet. In this same way, the script and all it’s elements are what make an impactful, entertaining movie. A movie that works.
Aside from the characters, when coming up with a story, we have to think about the THEME. The way I would explain this to my students… Theme in a movie is: What is the lesson you want to teach? What is the film about? What is the bigger picture?
Another element of story to consider is CHARACTER. What does the main character want? This is usually the first question we ask when trying to figure out a film. Often what the character wants has nothing to do with the lesson they will learn.
CONFLICT is what happens when what one character wants gets in the way of what another character wants.
A wise woman once told me that life is like a movie script. It’s already written and each actor has their part. We are all the star of our own movies and whoever we believe is directing this movie (a higher power) will give us direction, or a motivation.
So now let’s look at the THEME, CHARACTERS and CONFLICT of our life.
Most people are only concerned with their own wants and desires. If they’re too busy telling you what YOU should do, that’s usually an indication that they are avoiding some issue in their own life.
Take for example a conflict you might be having with a friend. We can think about how the friend is reading their own script, it’s from their point of view, and I am reading mine. We each have to advance to the next act in our movie. Friends today, we may not be in the next act of each others movie. Or maybe we just don’t play as large a part. Or perhaps we have become the villain.
I’m sure whatever the conflict is about, each one of you thinks you’re right, and two very different opposing scripts can be written from each of your points of view painting the other as a villain with good cause. Try this next time you’re having an argument with someone or feeling mad at them. If you can imagine the script of this situation from their point of view, you’ll often gain the compassion to forgive them for whatever drama they are bringing to your movie.
Depending on the point of view of the story, one character might be a villain or a hero. Take for example the show Dexter. If this story were from Deb’s point of view (Dexter’s sister), she would most likely be less annoying, if you can imagine that. Dexter would be the villain who makes her job very difficult. No one would want to watch that version of Dexter, though. I digress.
Similarly, I choose to believe life is more like a Goosebumps choose your own scare book. At several points in the book, you come to a crossroads, often quite literally a fork in the road. There are two or more decisions you can make that will take you to a different page in the book, next. The choice is completely yours. As a child I used to dissect these books to get to all the endings. There are only two or three possibilities for an ending, no matter which choices you make. Sometimes if you turn left while running from the monster, the book says, Sorry, you died (I’m paraphrasing). The story is over. Think of life in this way. There are only two or three ways the story of your life can go, choices in between that bring you to one outcome or another. Your choices may bring you to different settings or change the setting or circumstances you live in. Overall though, the choices you make in life do not change who you are as a character.
A unique strength of mine is my resourcefulness… my ability to creatively find my way out of problems and setbacks that others might get stuck in. It’s a skill that drew me to the fast paced worlds of filmmaking, creative writing and art. I’m able to think on my feet and change course when something isn’t working. Often though, I get sad at the outcomes and characters that I leave behind when making a big choice in life. Take for example the possibility of packing up and going to live in a different country. It would surely be an adventure with new doors and new possibilities. After time, I would be sad missing home, my family and friends. Perhaps this is just the storyteller inside of me that likes to think of the alternate endings. There are always other paths we can take, and each path has positives and negatives.
Some believe that God has a plan for us all. That may be true. I like to believe also that my willpower and effort can bring change to the settings and circumstances of my life. The theme stays the same. We learn the same lessons in our life- that being- whatever lesson it is we need to get through the conflict, and to deal with the characters in our life.
Some things in life aren’t really a choice. Do you recall a time struggling to make a decision and it turns out that it wasn’t really a choice after-all? Some things in life are just meant to happen, they are the incidents caused sometimes by characters in the story that lead to lessons. So if our life is a pre-written script with only a few possible endings, then maybe each little decision in life is NOT so painstakingly significant.
But just like the Goosebumps book, we can’t surrender. If you want to keep on going, you go through the open door, you fight the monster. Otherwise you could refuse to go to through the door because you’re afraid of what’s on the other side. In that case the movie would be over. You die. THE END.
Sounds like life to me.
If we give up on ourselves, we learn nothing, and that’s not a very good movie.
Lights, Camera, Action!
What is the theme of this chapter your life? Please reply in the comments below.
Barbara Saint Aimé is the president of her own public relations business, Aime Agency. This entrepreneur frequently travels the globe for her fabulous job, which has recently taken her to the Golden Globes! But appearances can be deceiving, as she opens up about the difficulties of being your own boss. She shares tips for breaking bad habits when working from home, and explains how entrepreneurs can utilize public relations and branding. She says, “It’s about consistency, and if you’re looking to expand your brand, make sure you know who you’re trying to reach.”
I chat with this fashionista about plus size fashion, tattoos and our mutual fear of turning 30. Laugh AT me as I explain the traumatic experience that caused my aversion to high heel shoes. Barbara’s fashion philosophy is this, “If you are not confident or comfortable in something, it’s totally going to look like you’re not. So you need to make sure your body language fits the outfit. If you’re wearing something, OWN IT”. This jet-setter dreams of being Oprah-rich, and she surely is on her way!
Aime Agency Website: http://www.AimeAgency.com
Barbara’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/Aimebee
Aime Agency Instagram: https://instagram.com/AimeAgency
Find out more about me at www.LauraMeoli.com
Special Shout out to Marcus Beasley Photography and the Indoob Podcast
Oscar Health Insurance:www.hioscar.com
Olivia Palermo: http://oliviapalermo.com
Laura’s Film, Perspective: http://www.laurameoli.com/perspective
Listen to more episodes of the LoudaVision Podcast HERE
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I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season so far. Thank you for expressing your support for my first newsletter. I received an overwhelmingly positive response from you and so here is an update with some NEW info.I have been finding inspiration all around me this holiday season. From the books I read to the people around me performing acts of kindness and reaching for success.
“No one is ready for a thing, until he believes he can acquire it. The state of mind must be BELIEF, not mere hope or wish. Open mindedness is essential for belief. Closed minds do not inspire faith, courage, and belief.”
-Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Here’s an excerpt from a newsletter I recieved (from ZenHabits) called “Finding the Motivation to Change your Entire Life“.
These are the set of actions that I’ve found to help overcome fears, find motivation, and prioritize:
Finding my purpose is the toughest step for me, I feel like it changes over time. For now though, I have identified and embraced my desire to be a media extraordinaire– creating media that will reach the masses and in a way, this newsletter is the accountability. You are the positive, encouraging people I’ve surrounded myself with.
Here are some of my actions:
Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/oxR1-te8_Qs
“Give a little”, my award-winning short holiday film is available for you to watch for FREE. It’s the perfect film to put on during the holidays.
Maybe you’re having an awkward moment at the dinner table, or maybe you just need a good laugh- I hope you do enjoy it.
Since “Give a Little” has been so successful, I have submitted it to Amazon Studios for the chance to be made into a feature length film. The more views and stars it has, the better the chances of it being picked up.
Spread holiday cheer! Here’s how you can help:
Watch the video here http://youtu.be/HmkzQ1K8FpU
As many of you already know, I am directing a web series talk show called “Women of Action with Lenina”
WoA is one of the most inspirational shows I’ve worked on so far. I want to thank all of you who have been watching, subscribers, followers and friends of the show. All-New Webisodes are coming in 2015- five spectacular guests and lots of bonus content (like the video above).
The season of giving!
If you’re feeling especially generous this year, here’s how you can help.
I wish you all Happy Holidays and a fantastic New Year ahead. 2015 is full of possibilities, whether you’re looking for a change, to maintain, or to continue on a path to happiness. My best wishes to you and your families.
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Hello friends, family, colleagues and supporters,
I am starting this blog to support the network of talented people that we have built over the years. I will update you occasionally on my projects, and encourage you to pursue your dreams, in turn, making them a reality. We are capable of achieving anything we put our mind to, and with a strong network of talented individuals, anything is possible. So send me updates about you, comments or questions about anything below- and as always, please stay in touch.
What am I up to? I’m glad you asked…
I am creating a TV sitcom called CTV.
Here’s my pitch (so far): CTV is a TV sitcom, a mix of 30-rock, Anchorman and Office Space- with a Seinfeld sensibility. It pokes fun at TV production itself, focusing on the people behind the scenes while offending every genre from American Idol to Infomercials to Exercise videos.
I’m new at comedy writing, and this is a very ambitious project. So it is a big challenge, but it is also very important to me. I feel like it is a way to share all the amazing, hilarious and unbelievable stories that I have witnessed (and experienced) during my time in TV production.
I am still in very early stages of pre-production. My pilot episode is complete, and I am currently writing the rest of season 1- as I search for a cast, crew and funding. My goal is for CTV to have everything it needs (cast, crew, budget, etc.) to be made the way I envision it in my head, and to gain viewers across the globe.
Want to get involved?
If you are interested in being a part of CTV, know someone who might be a good fit, or have any locations/equipment/resources available- please let me know. I am looking for dedicated, enthusiastic people to bring this story to life.
Click here for more information about CTV.
I’ve got a free holiday gift for you…
If you know me, you know about my love of this special time of year. “Give a Little” is my latest short film about the holidays, and it recently won a Best Shorts Competition and a Telly Award. Watch the film here
Sharing is caring…
Help me spread holiday cheer by watching and sharing. Here are some options:
How does this help?
Sharing “Give a Little” will help my work get noticed. Hopefully some big-shot Hollywood executive will find my work, and give me money to create more videos. It’s a leap-but crazier things have happened.