Filmed by Petros Gioumpasis. Produced by Esther Bintliff. Illustrations by Matt Johnstone. Edited by Oliver McGuirk. Additional production by Emma Shore. Images from Getty.
Not so long ago, when people had more time and space, they would read a daily newspaper, either on the way to work or when they got home. The newspapers would keep their politics on the opinion pages, and their news coverage would be broadly neutral.
Today, of course, looks very different. The majority of people still get their news from television and newspapers, but more than a third of people are getting it through their smartphones. News breaks at all times of the day and on the web first.
So how to cut through all the noise, and how to tell what's real and what's fake?
The first rule-- break out of your bubble. Being loyal to one source of news-- a newspaper, a website, television, or radio-- is not going to keep you fully informed. Try to absorb all sides of the debate. If you're a committed liberal, try the Daily Mail or Fox News, or vice versa.
Has the news actually happened? You may think this is a funny question, but keep your eyes out for the words "could," "might," "may," or "threatened to" in the opening paragraphs. But remember, not all warnings come true.
How many sources can you spot? The sign of a really trustworthy article is people who are willing to confirm the news and be both named and quoted. This holds true of everything-- from an eyewitness account of a disaster to a behind-the-scenes article about political intrigue.
The next layer down is unnamed sources. People close to a company may be spokesmen for that company, but it's up to you whether to believe them or not.
Finally, if there are no quotes in a story at all, this should be a red warning sign. It may be fake.
The survey story is a common genre. There are plenty of news reports that tell you that 60% of people in Britain prefer cats to dogs or one in three people is scared of knife crime. What was the sample size, and was the research commissioned by someone with an interest in its findings?
Remember the old saw-- news is what somebody somewhere doesn't want you to print. Everything else is advertising.
Nobody likes admitting that they're wrong, and newspapers tend to bury their corrections. Make sure you read them, so that you know when a mistake has been made.