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Media Literacy

media literacy and fluency; information literacy and fluency; fake news

Finding Real News and Avoiding Fake News

Be aware about the degree of partisanship that news sources have. Finding reputable news sources and avoiding partisan sources will help you find news that it truthful and well research; thus, reducing your chance of encountering fake news. Vanessa Otero (2016) creates a chart to illustrate how news sources fall within the liberal and conservative spectrum. The chart was featured on the professional blog of journalism professor Dr. Dennis G. Jerz from Seton Hill University.

 

The image below is the most recent version of the The Media Bias Chart by Ad Fontes Media. It presents a graph of where news outlets fall on a horizontal axis of political bias as well as on a vertical axis of their overall source reliability. The majority of the news sources form an inverted V with low quality left leaning source on the left, low quality conservative sources on the right. High quality, centerist source form the apex of the inverted V. This image is used with permission from the author. A PDF copy of the user license is available.

"Remember that journalism is a professional and academic field with a set of agreed-upon standards. People get degrees in it and people who are really good at it get jobs in it at good organizations. Peer review helps ensure mainstream sources adhere to standards; if a story doesn’t meet those standards, other news outlets report on that." --Vanessa Otero, 2016

Source: Ad Fontes Media. 2019. The Media Bias Chart. Chart, version 5

In addition to reading quality journalism, the following are good tips to help your stay accurately informed.

 

What to do:

 

  1. Read/watch/listen very widely. Be informed about what is going on around the world.

  2. Some generally reliable sources are (some of which require a subscription): The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Boston GlobeThe Wall Street JournalForbesThe AtlanticNational Public RadioPBS NewsHour, The Economist, The Pew Research Center, Democracy Now, as well as various local sources.

  3. Recognize that even typically reliable sources, whether mainstream or alternative, corporate or nonprofit, rely on particular media frames to report stories and select stories based on different notions of newsworthiness.

  4. Be critical of the sources we share and engage with on social media.

What to avoid:

  1. “Fake, false, regularly misleading sites” which rely on “outrage” using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits” (examples: politicops)​

  2. Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information (examples: ConsciousLifeNews.comCountdownToZeroTime.com)

  3. These websites sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions (examples: BipartisanReport.comTheFreeThoughtProject.com)

  4. Purposefully fake satire/comedy sites that can offer critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news (examples: Christwire.orgTheOnion.com)

Fake News in Real News

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