I was delighted to see that The Portugal News was rated as sixth out of 59 titles as the most trustworthy news outlets in Portugal. You can see the full results here.

This raised my interest in media reliability, and the results are thought provoking. Where do you look for your news, who can you trust to be unbiased. Most English readers will use English language printed and broadcast media. For UK newspapers, The Guardian came out in first place, followed by the Independent. Surprisingly the Financial Times came seventh, The Times came sixteenth.

In today's digital age, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. With an abundance of news outlets and social media platforms, it's important to question the reliability of the news we consume. While many news sources strive for objectivity and accuracy, there are also concerns about the potential for bias and manipulation.

One of the primary reasons why people may question the trustworthiness of the news is because of the potential for bias. News outlets may have political affiliations, financial interests, or ideological biases that can influence the way they report on events.

There is a classic description of the UK press media, I make no apologies for repeating it, just in case you don’t know it.

The Times is read by the people who run the country.

The Daily Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country.

The Guardian is read by the people who think they ought to run the country.

The Star is read by the people who think the country ought to be run by another country.

The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who own the country.

The Financial Times is read by the people who own the country.

The Daily Express is read by the people who think that the country ought to be run as it used to be.

The Daily Telegraph is read by the people who think it still is.

The Sun is read by the people who don't care who runs the country.

So much fake news, and it’s getting worse

Most journalists and media companies have used verifying to try and establish the accuracy of what they are seeing. Since the outbreak of the ‘problems’ in Ukraine, the situation has got much worse. Nearly everybody has a movie camera in their pocket, and with the aid of social media, they can post videos of what’s happening around them. Some people have an ‘agenda’ and so verifying has become critically important.

Who can you trust?

Choosing the source of our news is important, and it’s not easy. The BBC which has an international reputation for its news coverage recently launched a new department, BBC Verify. This department brought together forensic journalists and expert talent who go to great lengths to independently examine news footage being put out by governments and social media to ensure the footage is what it claims to be. In the days of Ai this becomes ever more important.

Sky News also have a similar department so we can be really sure that what we are seeing and being told is accurate. What about other international news channels.

CNN is a major news channel available worldwide. As an example, their investigative team came across alarming footage in late February two years ago. Russian helicopters flying menacingly low over dark plumes of rising smoke just a few kilometres outside of Kyiv. But it was not yet confirmed that Russian troops were that close to the Ukrainian capital. CNN had to verify that the footage was both recent and accurate through a process called geolocating.

“To geolocate it CNN did what’s called a panorama,” They created various screen grabs from the footage that looked significant.” Certain landmarks stood out in the screengrabs: A yellow building, a small rooftop structure and several white houses. They then went back to Google Earth to find any situation, any location near the airport that match that description. BBC and Sky use similar methods.

How to follow the news that interests you

Most of us are interested in Donald Trump, depending on your viewpoint, he is a major threat to democracy or a champion of the poor and underprivileged. Who do you trust to give you accurate news? Fox News have long been associated with taking a favourable view about Trump, though they seem to have fallen out recently. So who do you trust to give you unbiased information?

Personally, I use Google alerts to deliver a wide range of news items, but you have to look at the media being quoted and try to see if they have an ‘agenda’. According to SCImago Media, USA Today rates as the most reliable print media in America, followed by the New York Times.

Do it yourself

There are programs available for both private users and journalists. One of the better known is InVid. This programme used to be free but the cost is not immediately clear on their site. Its technology seems to be used by other verification sites. You can also use tools like the YouTube Dataviewer created by Amnesty International.

The golden rule is to be careful what media you use to follow serious news. Look for hidden agendas and the ownership of your chosen media. Never trust social media. The harm done by irresponsible posts and wild theories is almost incalculable. As an example. In In 1998, Andrew Wakefield published claims of a link between MMR vaccination and autism, later proved to be totally inaccurate. There have been over 500 Measles outbreaks in England over the last year as clusters appear around the country. All because of wild inaccurate claims all over social media about the vaccination that could stop this, which subsequently stopped some parents vaccinating their children.

Wild claims about the Covid-19 vaccination still continue to appear all over social media. Few people doubt that the vaccination prevented the spread of Covid-19. Whether you choose to vaccinate of not is a matter of personal choice, but don’t doubt it’s been dramatically effective.

If your only choice of news is social media, take a reality check.


Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy. 

Paul Luckman