Please contact our Research Librarians or your Seminar Librarian for help with assignments for this course or any others.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand. Roberto Faccenda from Canale CN, Italy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
During the library sessions, students will:
Scholarly articles and books take the longest to be published and to read but are the most detailed. Posts shared on social media may be almost instantaneous but are often very brief and are unlikely to tell the whole story. News events may, in a few hours, days or weeks, be covered in news websites, newspapers, television programs, and magazines but often contain less specific information and offer a more general overview.
One source is not enough to write a strong paper, but you can write a solid paper by synthesizing information gathered from a variety of sources.
Information Timeline, 2020, Elizabeth Waugh from CSC124 Information, Technology, and Society: Information Defined
Vanessa Otero (the person behind the Interactive Media Bias Chart -- see below) provides these 3 strategies for "How to know what to trust"
Read laterally -- Verify what you're reading by looking at multiple sources on the same topic to corroborate facts and see how the story is covered by other journalists to check for bias. Even Wikipedia articles often site sources -- follow those links! This is similar to finding and reading items in the reference list or bibliography at the end of a journal article or academic book.
Have a "basket of reliable sources" that you can go to check facts. And, don't just have one, check several. (Otero suggests 10!) Understand that even reliable news sources may have a political leaning that influences their analysis of a situation or their editorial opinions and even the types of stories that they tend to cover. Through your library, you have access to several online news, magazine and journal article databases, to reference works (to find background information) and to books, eBooks and videos via the library catalog.
Look up things you have reason to question. Pay particular attention to news that seems to be a "big deal"; If it is, multiple sources should report it. Also, cross-check information that confirms your own opinions (biases) and makes those who don't agree look bad. These stories are designed to appeal to people who share those opinions and who may "share" or like them on social media. This is similar to lateral reading but broader -- 'google' authors, images, organizations referenced, embedded links, etc. to gain a better understanding of the context in which the information is presented.
Websites for checking news media are below. For a list of reliable fact-checking sites (e.g. Snopes and Factcheck.org) see the page of this guide linked from the Internet / Websites tab on the navigation menu at left.
Ortero, V. (4 August 2020). Why It Is Challenging to Teach News Literacy in Today’s World, and How to Do So Effectively Anyway. Infobase.com blog.
Interactive Media Bias Chart This is from Vanessa Otero's website (see above). Multiple analysts rate multiple stories from each source for political bias (left to right) and reliability (whether the story is fact-based, analysis or opinion) to arrive at an average for each news source. You can browse sources by category or search for specific sources.
Media Bias / Fact Check "We are the most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet. There are currently 3300+ media sources listed in our database and growing every day." (6 August 2020) Search by source name or URL to discover it's ownership and political ideology. This site covers the St. Louis Post.