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**COLONELS LIBRARY LHS**

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About News Imposters

The ability to tell accurate news from imposters is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life.  This LibGuide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online.

Please feel free to share this guide with others.  If you are a librarian, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Graphics about Fact Checking

Frank W. Baker is a K-12 media educator and author of the ISTE book Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom, Second Edition. H created the Media Literacy Clearninghouse in 1998 to help teachers find appropriate resources for teaching about media literacy. 

From International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA): http://blogs.ifla.org/lpa/files/2017/01/How-to-Spot-Fake-News.pdf

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Vocabulary

Balance - equality between the totals of the two (or more) sides of the account. Balance is a more technical term than fairness. It's a quantitative measurement that can be used as a tool to achieve fairness, especially in cases where the facts are in dispute or the truth is still developing.

Bias - a predisposition that distorts your ability to fairly weigh the evidence and prevents you from reaching a fair or accurate judgment.

Clickbait - a sensationalized headline or piece of text on the Internet designed to entice people to follow a link to an article on another Web page.

Confirmation Bias - pursuing information that reassures or reflects a person’s particular point of view.

Content Farm -  a website that exploits the way search engines retrieve and rank pages by incorporating popular search terms and topics in its content, often with little attention to the originality, appropriateness, or quality of the subject matter, in order to elevate the ranking of its articles in online search results and attract advertisers.

Context - background or ancillary information that is necessary to understand the scope, impact, magnitude or meaning of new facts reported as news ... the circumstances that form the setting for an event or statement ... ideas or facts that give greater meaning to a news report so that it can be fully understood and assessed.

Glurge - the body of inspirational tales which conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer, and which undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering "true stories." Glurge often contains such heart-tugging elements as sad-eyed puppies, sweet-faced children, angels, dying mothers, or miraculous rescues brought about by prayer. These stories are meant to be parables for modern times but fall far short of the mark.

Hoaxsomething intended to deceive or defraud; to deceive by a hoax; hoodwink.

Ostension - the process of unwittingly acting out or mimicking the greater part (if not the entirety) of an urban legend that is already part of the body of lore. More simply, if the events described in an urban legend which had been around since 1950 actually did indeed spontaneously play out in real life in 1992, that would be an example of ostension. (In other words, just because something actually happened doesn't mean it's not an urban legend!)

Propaganda - information, ideas or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution or nation. It is often biased and misleading, in order to promote an ideology or point of view.

Satire - the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

Urban Legend - a specific class of legend, differentiated from "ordinary" legends by their being provided and believed as accounts of actual incidents that befell or were witnessed by someone the teller almost knows (e.g., his sister's hairdresser's mechanic). These tales are told as true, local, and recent occurrences, and often contain names of places or entities located within the teller's neighborhood or surrounding region.

Definitions from Dictionary.com,  Snopes, and The Stony Brook University Center for News Literacy 

Accountability - Taking direct responsibility, by name, for the truthfulness and the reliability of the report. Examples include bylines in print and digital journalism and signoffs in audio and video reports.

Advertising - Attracting attention by paying to have announcements placed on billboards, in newspapers and broadcasts or on websites.

Balance - Equality between the totals of the two (or more) sides of the account. Balance is a more technical term than fairness. It's a quantitative measurement that can be used as a tool to achieve fairness, especially in cases where the facts are in dispute or the truth is still developing.

Bias - A predisposition that distorts your ability to fairly weigh the evidence and prevents you from reaching a fair or accurate judgment. Here's how to spot bias:

  • Look for evidence of a pattern of unfairness over time
  • Compare a variety of news outlets, especially to search for bias by omission
  • Take note of the self-interest of those alleging bias

Media Bias is a pattern of unfairness or willful inaccuracy over time by a specific journalist or news outlet. It cannot be proven by a single isolated incident.

Audience Bias is a News Literacy term describing the tendency of individuals to see bias in news media reports because they are unconsciously viewing journalism through their own biases. A key element of Audience Bias is Cognitive Dissonance, which occurs when individuals discount the value or veracity of a report that conflicts with their preconceived beliefs.

Cognitive Dissonance - A psychological theory that holds people are so powerfully motivated to reduce their discomfort that they will dismiss, block or warp incoming information that does not conform with their beliefs, viewpoint or understanding of the truth. It can result in:

Selective Distortion and Retention — Remembering only those elements of a news report that affirm the individual’s beliefs, or only “hearing” or “seeing” elements of a report that affirm existing beliefs.

Confirmation Bias — Seeking out information to confirm what we already believe.

Source Misattribution — Attributing dubious information to a more credible source.

Confirmation Bias - Pursuing information that reassures or reflects a person’s particular point of view.

Context - Background or ancillary information that is necessary to understand the scope, impact, magnitude or meaning of new facts reported as news ... the circumstances that form the setting for an event or statement... ideas or facts that give greater meaning to a news report so that it can be fully understood and assessed.

Direct Evidence - Anything that was captured firsthand or on the scene (i.e. video, recordings, photographs, documents, records, eyewitness accounts). Direct Evidence, which gives us a direct line to the story is better than Indirect Evidence, which is a step or two removed from the events.

Entertainment - Something affording pleasure, diversion or amusement.

Fairness - Marked by impartiality and honesty. Free from self-interest, prejudice or favoritism. In controversial matters, fairness demands a courageous weighing of evidence to assure the report is fair to the facts.

Fairness may require balance, but reports about known facts (the millions gassed by the Nazis, the accelerating changes in earth’s climate) are unfair to the facts if they create false equivalencies by assuring an equity between multiple stakeholders.

Independence - Freedom from the control, influence or support of interested parties. Journalists are expected to avoid reporting on matters in which they may have a financial stake, personal/familial ties, or intellectual prejudice by virtue of declarations of allegiance. Leading newsrooms adopt the standard found in the judicial canon of ethics: The appearance of a conflict of interest is as damaging to public trust as an actual conflict, and must be addressed transparently. Similarly, journalists are expected to be transparent about the potential conflicts of interest of sources used in their reports.

Indirect Evidence - Secondhand or recreated information (i.e. accounts from official spokesmen, expert reconstructions, hearsay testimony, computer models).

Information Neighborhoods - News Literacy students are taught a taxonomy that allows them to quickly navigate information neighborhood: News, Entertainment, Advertising, Promotion, Propaganda and Raw Information. The News or Journalism neighborhood is the only one with all three of the VIA characteristics -- Verification, Independence and Accountability.

Journalistic Truth - The best obtainable version of the truth on any given day.

News - Timely information of some public interest that is shared and subject to a journalistic process of verification and for which an independent individual or organization is directly accountable.

News cycle - When we say "news cycle" in this course, we are talking about the cycle of when and how news events/stories are picked up, investigated, produced, disseminated and consumed.

News Driver - What makes information newsworthy.

The nine Universal News Drivers discussed in this course are:

  • Importance/Impact: When the information has serious implications.
  • Prominence: When the story is news because of who is involved.
  • Conflict: Clashes of people, institutions or ideas.
  • Human Interest: A unique or universal experience exploring the human condition.
  • Magnitude: Stories driven by numbers, very large or unusually small.
  • Proximity: Local events whose proximity to the audience increases their news value.
  • Unusualness: Alerts and diverts – something strange that doesn’t usually happen every day.
  • Timeliness: Anniversaries, holidays or deadlines – the calendar is the crucial context of the story
  • Relevance/Usefulness/Practicality: How relevant and useful is the information in the story to the audience?

News Literacy -The ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, television or the Internet.

Propaganda - Information, ideas or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution or nation. It is often biased and misleading, in order to promote an ideology or point of view.

Publicity - The process of securing public notice with information designed to enhance the image of a person or product.

Raw Information - Information that has yet to be examined or verified. It is unfiltered information that bypasses traditional gatekeepers and mediators.

Reliable Information - Allows the news consumer to make a decision, take action or share responsibly with others. It has all three of these characteristics: Verification, Independence and Accountability.

Scientific Truth - A statement of probability proportional to the evidence, which will change over time, as further research changes our understanding daily of everything from the size of the largest dinosaur to the nature of the former planet Pluto.

Selective Dissonance - The process of distorting or “forgetting” incoming information if it does not match a person’s particular point of view.

Social media - Social media refers to online social networking/sharing services like Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and so forth.

They are called "social" media as opposed to "mass" media such as TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. The communication model we have with the "mass" media is unidirectional, which means that information flows from a small group of content producers to the mass audience.

With "social" media, the flow of information is multidirectional. Any "user" has the power to become information producers and distributers to reach out to the "mass" audience.

What we are experiencing with the technology like smartphones is a fundamental shift from the "one-to-many" communication model to the "many-to-many" model, which is affecting the way we consume news.

Source Evaluation/ IM VAIN - The bedrock method of deconstruction: Each source in a news report is evaluated using the “IM VAIN” rubric:

  • Independent sources are preferable to self-interested sources.
  • Multiple sources are preferable to a report based on a single source.
  • Sources who Verify or provide verifiable information are preferable to those who merely assert.
  • Authoritative and/or Informed sources are preferable to sources who are uninformed or lack authoritative background.
  • Named sources are better than anonymous ones.

Source Misattribution - The process of misattributing comforting information to a more respectable source.

Transparency - When reporters share how they know what they know, what they don’t know and why.

Truth - Events as they actually happened, phenomena as they actually exist, the universe as it actually exists, independent of what we have so far been able to learn of it. The term stands in contrast to Scientific Truth and Journalistic Truth, which describe human approaches to learning truth.

Verification - The investigative process by which a news organization gathers, assesses, confirms and weighs evidence in service to the search for truth.

Disciplines of Verification

  • Gather, assess and weigh evidence
  • Place facts in the big picture (context)
  • Be fair when appropriate, adjust balance
  • Maintain transparency

V.I.A. - Acronym used in the course to stand for Verification, Independence, and Accountability. Reliable information has all three of these characteristics.

Glossary from Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens , reprinted with permission from The University of Hong Kong & The State University of New York

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