Media Literacy
Media literacy is the ability to access and critically evaluate media. In relation to current events, it is important that one can recognize disinformation. Disinformation, known by its common subset fake news is false, misleading, or inaccurate information that is often crafted and disseminated with the intent to deceive. It is often fabricated to to mimic real news, medical, or even scholarly content, but it lacks traditional editorial processes that are undergone to ensure the credibility of the information. Misinformation literacy is an essential skill for every day life in the modern age, and especially within higher education.
Blocks with letters on them spell out the word fact, but a hand is turning the last two blocks to reveal the letters k and e, changing the word fact to fake
Analyze Sources
Analyze the source by checking to see if it is CRAAP.

Currency: How recently was this information published or posted? Can you locate a publication date? Has it been revised or updated? Are the links on the page functional?
Relevance: Does the information relate to your topic? Who is the intended audience? Is the information at the appropriate level? Have you looked at a variety of sources?
Authority: Who wrote the information? What are their credentials? Are they an expert of knowledgeable in their field? If you cannot locate the author clearly stated, be wary. When nobody wants to sign their name to it, it likely is nothing to be proud of.
Accuracy: Is the information supported by evidence? Has the information been reviewed? Does the language seem unbiased and objective?
Purpose: Why was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is the information fact or opinion? Is the point of view impartial? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

If you are not sure if it is true, don’t share it!

In order to navigate a word of disinformation, you have to be able to identify bias within your sources and within yourself. Bias can be explicit or implicit.

Explicit bias are beliefs that your consciously and purposely hold abut a group or person.

Implicit biases are beliefs that subconsciously influence your opinions and actions. Everyone has implicit bias, but being self-aware can help support your objectivity.

Lastly, and most dangerous, is confirmation bias, which is when you inherently seek or and interpret information in way that affirm the beliefs and ideas that you already hold.

Social Media
Check the account of the source for red flags, such as:

  • How many posts has the user made?
  • How long has the account been active?

Some accounts will claim to be renowned sources, such as news sites BBC and Pew Research Center, but they will only have a few posts in their history; this is a sign that they are imposter accounts.

These accounts will often reuse an image from a previous event in order to deceive people. You can check to see if an image has been used before on TinEye.

Be sure to keep an eye out for advertised posts.

  • Facebook marks advertised posts with a “sponsored” symbol.
    The Facebook symbol for "sponsored" posts: the word "sponsored" and a small globe
  • Twitter will mark the tweets with “promoted” or “promoted tweet”.
    The sign for a promoted tweet on twitter: the word "promoted" and an arrow pointing upward and to the right
An infographic on How to Spot Fake News (8 tips): 1. Consider the source: Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission, and its contact info. 2. Read Beyond: Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What's the whole story? 3. Check the Author: Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real? 4. Support Sources?: Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually support the story. 5. Check the Date: Reposting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current events. 6. Is it a joke?: If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure. 7. Check your biases: Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement. 8. Ask the Experts: Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.
Check Scholarly Funding
“Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out toe manipulate research in their favor? Yes it is, and the practice continues.” – Nestle

All industries suffer from funding bias, where research funded by an outside source will be more likely to support the cause of that source, likely a corporation.

Check the acknowledgement section of a report to discern its funding. Unfortunately, only government funding is required to be shared by law, so there is no sure way to identify all funding sources. For doctors, any direct payments received from companies are posted at this Open Payments Data website.

Also, beware sensational news articles that reference scholarly articles: check the research yourself. News outlets will often dramatize the conclusions of a study in order to draw reader’s attention.

Watch Out For Statistics
An easy way for research, both scholarly and popular, to dramatize their results or tilt the study in their favor is to make a weapon of skewed statistics. Imagine a study claims that 9 out of 10 individuals prefer Starbucks Coffee to Dunkin’ Donuts. But the researcher only interviewed ten people total, and all of them were waiting in line at a Starbucks… It would be easy to say that these results hold no authority.

Unfortunately, skewed statistics are rarely so cut and dry. But a common way that researchers try to hide this information is by not disclosing any information about their data collection methods or their control group.

Another term you will hear a lot is statistical significance. Statistical significance, while promising for research, is not the center of scientific fact. Good science is composed of many, many studies, confirming the same results with statistical significance numerous times.

Often, studies will supply readers with charts and graphs to help them understand the data. Double check to make sure the numbers match what the image is trying to depict. Common tactics to mislead involve: changing the x-axis to a number other than zero, stretching out the intervals of the y-axis, or graphing only a few data points from the entire study.

Predatory Journals
In the scholarly field, there is a lot of pressure to get your results and articles published. In desperation, sometimes researchers will turn to predatory journals, which are journals the researcher will pay to publish their work. These journals have sub-par and sometimes non-existent peer-review.

Some articles come from other sources, such as conferences. If an article says the research was presented at a convention or conference, then it is possible it was not subject to peer review.

In order to avoid these, depend upon the journals selected by the library, which have undergone review by professionals. When using databases, look for the checkbox option to retrieve “peer reviewed” results only.
Check all the skill you just learned by picking Real VS. Fake News in this interactive game!

Factitious 2018
Put your new knowledge to the test with this visual quiz to help you spot that fake news story!

Media Literacy Quiz.
Fact-Checking Resources
A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Checks the accuracy of political statements and news.
This site is a Pultizer Prize Winner, owned by the journalism school, the Poynter Institute. It checks and ranks political claims.
This site, based from the larger, focuses on misleading or untrue scientific claims that are made by those trying to influence public policy.
This award-winning fact-checking site has been around since 1995. It checks rumors, urban legends, and news.
Media Bias/Fact Check
This site works to call out biased or deceptive news and media practices.
Open Secrets
This site is run by the Center for responsive Politics, a nonpartisan and independent organization, which tracks money in U.S. politics.
Trusted News
This browser extension works for Chrome and identifies sites as trustworthy, biased, untrustworthy, and satire.
BS Detector
This browser extension works for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. It identifies fake and satirical news sites.
Fake News Alert
This browser extension works for Chrome and alerts you when you are on a fake news site.
Current Event Databases
Login to Ocean Connect. Once your are logged in, click the “Library Services” tab on the left-hand side of the screen. You can then select to view the databases alphabetically or by subject.

Points of View Researcher
Provides a balance of materials from all viewpoints with main essays, leading political magazines from all sides of the political spectrum, newspapers, radio and television news transcripts, primary source documents and reference books. The database also offers related images and supplementary research guides for writing position papers, developing arguments, and debating.
SIRS Researcher
This database is easy to use and not as in-depth as others. It offers analysis and opinions that cover the pros, cons, and everything in between of 345+ social, scientific, health, historic, economic, political, and global issues. Editorially created content with engaging Essential Questions with answers, and viewpoint articles help build solid foundations for understanding complex global issues.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context
This database offers a variety of popular and scholarly sources. It includes pro/con viewpoints, reference articles, interactive maps, infographics, and more. A category search provides quick and easy access to content on frequently studied and discussed issues. Periodical content covers current events, news and commentary, economics, environmental issues, political science, and more.
Global Issues in Context
This database offers a variety of popular and scholarly sources. It integrates news, global viewpoints, reference materials, country information, primary source documents, videos, statistics, and more in a single search – Global Issues In Context is updated daily and offers 250 different country topic pages and more than 400 issue pages. TIP!: The search bar has a drop-down option that allows you to search Global Issues and Opposing Viewpoints at the same time!

CQ Researcher
This database reports on many topics. It provides full-length articles that include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con features, plus resources for additional research. Graphics, photos, and short “sidebar” features round out the reports. Shorter “hot topics” articles provide a solid introduction to subject most in demand by students.
U.S. Major Dailies
U.S. Major Dailies provides access to the five most respected U.S. national and regional newspapers: The New York Times, Washington Post, Los ANgeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Wall Street Journal. The titles offer researchers thorough and timely coverage of local, regional, and global events with journalistic balance and perspective.
Northeast Newsstream
Enables users to search the most recent regional news content, as well as archives which stretch back to the 1980s featuring newspapers, newswires, and news sites in active full-text format. Northeast Newsstream covers news sources from Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
InfoTrac Newsstand
Provides access to more than 2,300 major U.S. regional, national, and local newspapers, as well as leading titles from around the world. It also includes thousands of images, radio, and TV broadcasts and transcripts.
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