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The Internet Marketer
Janet Peischel's The Internet Marketer: Four ways to identify fake news

Fake news is under fire by the Trump administration. Many people who believe fake news believe everything they see in print.

“I read it on the Internet, so it must be true, right?”

Really, really wrong.

If you’re getting your news from the exaggerated headlines at the checkout counter and dubious Internet sites, it’s time you realized that you’re likely reading fake news.

Whatever happened to critical thinking?

What’s disturbing is that we seem to have raised a generation of people who have lost the ability to think, to question, to differentiate between legitimate reporting and that which is pure fabrication. People should have a fundamental sense of media literacy.

Here are four ways to evaluate the legitimacy of a news story.

1. Pay attention to the domain and URL

Established news organizations usually own their domains, and they have a standard look that you will recognize.

Sites that end with should tip you off that they may not be legitimate. This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi-recognizable logos.

An example: is a legitimate news source; is not.

2. Read the About section

Most sites will have a lot of information about the news outlet, the company that runs it, its leadership, mission and the organization’s ethics.

The language used here is straightforward. If it’s melodramatic and overblown, it’s a red flag. You also should be able to find information about the organization’s leadership all over the web.

Google them and look at their credentials. If they’re questionable, so is the publication.

3. Be wary of the lack of quotes

Most publications quote multiple sources in each story from professionals with expertise in the fields they are discussing. If it’s a serious or controversial issue, there are more likely to be quotes – lots of them — from industry experts.

Look for professors, industry heavyweights or well-known academics who can speak to the research they’ve done. If they are referencing research, look up those studies to validate them.

4. Be equally wary of the source of quotes

Check the sourcing. Is it a reputable source with a title that you can verify through a quick Google search? Let’s say you’re reading an article about President Obama’s wanting to take everyone’s guns away, and the article includes a quote.

Now, there are transcripts of pretty much every address or speech President Obama has ever given; they’re all recorded and archived.

Take a minute and Google some of the article’s quotes to understand the topic, audience and date. Even if he did an exclusive interview with a publication, that same quote will be referenced in other stories.

A free press and independent journalism are central to democracy. We now have the ability to validate the news we’re receiving. It’s up to each of us to be a critical thinker, to support free and independent journalism.

Our Founding Fathers understood its importance to a system of healthy checks and balances, which is fundamental to our democracy.

Real Estate in the Napa Valley
Burt Polson's Real Estate in the Napa Valley: Shaking up real estate values with the new fault maps - Part 2

The Napa earthquake of 2014 likely affected the value of several homes close to the fault with several owners finding it may be difficult to sell at some time in the future.

In part one, we reviewed the new Alquist-Priolo earthquake fault zone map that now confirms the location of the fault running from north Vallejo, through American Canyon up through northwest Napa.

When examining a map, you will find a yellow-shaded area following the actual fault and averages a quarter of a mile in width. This area is where development could be restricted.

The Cuttings Wharf map includes the area of Highway 29 through American Canyon. There, you will find many undeveloped commercial parcels that unfortunately are within the earthquake fault zone.

One project currently underway is the Village at Vintage Ranch, a 159-unit apartment development in American Canyon.

Located on the northeast corner of Highway 29 and American Canyon Road, the West Napa Fault runs directly through the project.

As part of a project’s entitlements, the developer is required to identify the exact location of the fault.

Locating a fault is usually accomplished by hiring a geologist to perform reconnaissance of the site by first digging several deep trenches perpendicular to the probable location.

The geologist can then determine the location and direction of the fault by examining the walls of the trench.

They also use trenching that may have occurred on other adjacent properties, thereby mapping out the fault. The Walgreens site to the south had trenching done before development the geologist can use to confirm the direction of the fault.

The geologist identified the location of the fault within the Village at Vintage Ranch and recommended no inhabited structure within 50 feet on each side of the fault.

The requirement essentially bisected the development into two areas with the 100-foot section being used for parking and greenbelt.

The real test of value lies in a site with development potential. The Village at Vintage Ranch site is zoned cluster residential allowing for 12 to 18 units per acre.

At 11.5 acres, the possibility exists for 138 to 207 units. This project is entitled for 159 units and falls within the range, but there was potential for more.

Many factors go in to determine the potential number of units allowed on a site including parking, streets, landscaping, easements, drainage, topography, and setbacks with the fault line playing a significant role.

Other sites in American Canyon along Highway 29 are within the fault zone and may even have the fault run through them.

The development potential of a parcel could be affected so much so that the size of a structure may be drastically reduced or even found to be undevelopable.

In either case, the potential for the number of units or size of the building correlates to the value of the parcel to a developer.