If you’ve been paying any attention to the news over the past few days, I’m sure you’ve seen the statement “alternative facts” over and over again. During a segment on “Meet The Press,” Trump Adviser Kellyanne Conway stated that the facts mentioned by the new Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, during the White House’s statement on Inauguration crowd sizes were just alternative facts.
But what do alternative facts mean for journalists?
Spicer’s statement was riddled was falsehoods — not alternative facts — such as, “This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall,” which is not true, as it happened at the 2013 inauguration, as well.
WHAT IS AN ALTERNATIVE FACT?:
An alternative fact is something that isn’t totally true, like twisting data to fit an agenda. You’ll see that a lot of columnists and reporters are saying that alternative facts are just blatant lies, which isn’t always the case. Some of the claims made by Spicer were just outright falsehoods. Usually, alternative facts are statements or graphics that spin the truth to look different than reality, like scale-shrinking in data to make a .5 inch different in rainfall look like a drastic drop or increase.
WHAT TO DO WITH ALTERNATIVE FACTS?
It seems like it would be really easy to just ridicule or chastise those who use alternative facts, but instead, journalists should use their medium to check facts and report on inconsistencies. Use your knowledge of media literacy and news writing to tell the difference between the truth and a lie. And lastly, sniff out alternative facts, and report the big picture that the source is trying to conceal.