Seems fake news is not a new phenomenon. Candidates Thomas Jefferson and John Adams spread wild rumours about each other prior to the 1800 US presidential election. So today’s rash of fake news, stories with spin, and salacious innuendos are just more of the same.

There are helpful websites where you can check the authenticity of a found story.

Snopes.com is a reliable checker site. You’ll be amazed what their fact checkers have discovered about stories we all thought were true.

Factcheck.org is a checker site which concentrates on US politics. They’re kept busy.

Politifact.com is another reliable checker site which focuses on US politics.

Today there are over a hundred independent fact-checking organisations in 50 countries. Search for phrases in “quote marks”, such as “alternate facts”, “urban legends”, “rumors/rumours about XYZ” and you’ll find heaps of information, much with questionable provenance.

But remember, nothing we do is without some bias. Cropping a photo means removing something. What you remove may influence the credibility of the photo. Even enhancing the blueness of the sky is giving an added spin. Editing an over-length article means cutting something out. This task must be handled with care and fairness. When sub-editors write a headline they can give a spin, whether intentionally or not. Today the biblical story of Jesus Christ walking on water could have the headline “Their Leader Can’t Swim”. Now that’s blatant bias.

Brian Morris

Brian Morris

Principal Emeritus, New Zealand Institute of Business Studies

Brian Morris was the founding principal of NZIBS and has been a professional writer for 50 years. His first effort at age 7 (in pencil) was rejected by Reader's Digest. Since then he has focused on writing non-fiction ebooks. Click here for Brian's Amazon.com profile.

My aim is to produce a new ebook every two weeks. My other aim is to show as many people as will listen how to write their own ebooks. That means giving talks to writers groups, 'How-To' workshops and NZIBS writing courses. I know the topics of my next 40 ebooks, but there are only 25 hours in a day.