Part Two

Challenge your own assumptions

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A varied media diet is helpful. It’s not enough. We all need to challenge our own assumptions. When Dan was a technology journalist and commentator in Silicon Valley, he had a specific technique for doing this:

I kept a list I called “Things I Believe” in my desk drawer. These weren’t moral or philosophical issues, but rather core assumptions that were guidance for my ongoing work. For a few years in the 1990s, the one at the top was “Microsoft is an abusive monopoly that needs government supervision.”

Every few months, I pulled the list out of the drawer. Then I spent several days asking myself — and doing basic reporting, such as reading and calling people I knew disagreed with me — what might have changed to make any of those assumptions wrong. The result was that some items moved up or down on the list. Some disappeared, because they were no longer right.

It was essential to do this in a fast-moving field like technology, because if I didn’t challenge my assumptions I was guaranteed to be wrong at some point.

I recommend this exercise to every media user.