* Ignore stories with anonymous sources. - These are often wrong and are usually pushed by people with an agenda. That's why they won't go on the record. An exception can be made for whistle-blowers who provide evidence besides their statements - provided that the independent evidence is published. This is my exception, not the authors.
* Ignore stories writing about people in the future tense (i.e. The President will say ..., The governor is expected to propose .., etc) - No one really knows what will happen till it happens. Speculation stories are just an effort to feed the voracious 24/7 news cycle.
* Take the very first report on a subject with a large grain of salt. - The news cycle puts a premium on being first. This usually results in skipping fact-checking which would delay the story being posted. Wait for several reports on a breaking story before drawing any conclusions.
Have any other tips for news/media viewing? Leave a comment.
Daniel Cornwall is a librarian, amateur photographer and hiking enthusiast who lives in Juneau, Alaska. Find more about him, and lots about libraries, on his blog: http://alaskanlibrarian.wordpress.com, where this column first appeared.