Storytelling and fact-checking

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STORYTELLING

Once upon a time, one wanted to bring others together, educate, entertain and call them on the action in a unique way. And one told a story. Their audience was touched and inspired by never before heard narrative full of interesting characters, memorable events, and catchy sayings. It was almost a magic and, concurrently, a trendy must-have power. Story by story, the real art of storytelling was created and happily used and admired until the end.

Back to the present, there are plenty of good stories told and written every day for a long list of purposes. Beginning from the business sector, motivating workers and students, to actions of non-governmental and political establishments, well-told stories always do their job. They change us from within, redirect our perspective, and make us move. Stories make everything look possible, and people, loving to believe that, love stories as well.

While storytelling can be used in all spheres of life, it has its importance in cultural preservation. Have you ever heard of the Western African model of storytelling? We bet that it is pure fun to sit around the fire after dinner and listen to a storyteller. Additionally, credits to Irish storytellers as well. They do an exhausting job traveling from village to village to gather people, educate and entertain them.

For sure, they must have noticed what psychologist Jerome Bruner´s research suggests, that a story is more memorable than a fact.  To be precise, 22 times.

Therefore, either through culture, religion, or work, all of us get in touch with this kind of art and become aware of its power. Undoubtedly, we all receive an incentive to develop ourselves into good storytellers.

Finally, we leave you with the famous storytelling of Steve Jobs in 2015, having in mind his words:

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come….”

Fun fact: He was not always a good one. We all need some practice.

FACT-CHECKING

In the 21-century media environment, there are various challenges media consumers need to be aware of and overcome. Because, in essence, media should aim to inform people about essential everyday news and not to manipulate people's emotions, which can be the case nowadays. However, that is not simple to advocate for since media are getting its attention by headings causing an emotional reaction. Establishing connections between news and people's everyday lives, mainly personally, makes them very influential and omnipresent. In that manner, by personalized advertising with sponsored information, individuals are often first and the last barrier for widespread misinformation or news, which are essential to be informed about. But, since a challenge emerges, a potential solution goes alongside. In terms of this specifical issue, fact-checking occupation gains its momentum.

However, the phenomenon of fact-checking is not a 21-century invention. Its roots date back to the past. For example, in the USA, the first fact-checking initiatives began to appear in the period between 190 and 1900 when organizations for correction of misleading and inaccurate news were first time opened (Fabry, 2014)

As time passes and significantly more news started to be presented to the public daily, fact-checkers gained their importance globally. Social media platforms, such as Facebook in the first place, revolutionized communication but also caused people to freely write the first thing on their mind without being accountable for possible consequences they can drive. The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), based at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, accelerated global response by connecting fact-checkers globally by establishing fact-checkers in Africa, Europe, North America, and other geographical areas.

However, not everyone is familiar with how fact-checking works. Often, because of a lack of information, fact-checking reports go under the radar. But, as ordinary users of social media, having them “on our side” is an alternative for every responsible online user to be appropriately informed and objective. Wright State University (2021) point out steps that can be undertaken to evaluate the newest information, stating four main steps in the following order:

  • Use fact-checking sites
  • Evaluate the information using CRAAP test (Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose)
  • Check biases
  • Step Away

And almost every time, we will find that using fact-checking sites is the first step in evaluating suspicious information presented to us daily.

References:

Fabry, M. (2017) Here’s How the First Fact-Checkers Were Able to Do Their Jobs Before the Internet, Time, 24 August 2017, available at: https://time.com/4858683/fact-checking-history/ , Accessed 31 May 2021

Stanford News (2014) ‘You've got to find what you love’, Steve Jobs, 14 June 2005, available at: https://news.stanford.edu/2005/06/14/jobs-061505/ , Accessed 31 May 2021

Wright State University (2021) Media Literacy and Fact-Checking, available at: https://guides.libraries.wright.edu/c.php?g=1019856&p=7415415 Accessed 31 May 2021

Authors: Ajna Veladžić & Omer Muminović 

Illustration: Ezana Ćeman