Credit: Casey LaPlante
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:
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:
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:
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
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