by Lloyd A. de Vries
For "spot news" "breaking news," or up-to-the-minute the Internet is replacing the print publications. Within minutes of an announcement, it may be posted somewhere on the Internet in newsgroups, e-mail lists, message boards or web sites.
However, just as there are differences between the trustworthiness of a major-city newspaper and a supermarket tabloid with space aliens on its cover, you can't believe everything you read on the Web.
Among the "everyone knows" rumors that keep popping up are the e-mail tax and the end of the U.S. Black Heritage series. Neither is true.
I wish there were some formula I could give you that would make it easy to tell the difference between the Weekly World Whacko Newses and the Washington Posts of the Internet. There's not. All I can suggest is that you consider the track record of an Internet "publication" before believing what you read. Ask yourself questions "Is this plausible?" "Does this medium have an ulterior motive in publishing this?"
One giveaway on those untrue "everyone knows" rumors is an e-mail item that's been forwarded many times.
And, before you judge our Brave New Electronic World too harshly, remember that not everything you read in print that purports to be news is true, either.