Mr. Sood's 11th grade class visited the library and looked at how to evaluate news sources, especially with so many false news sites that are everywhere and are shared so easily! Students worked in small groups to look closely at websites and try to evaluate them. We also looked at Snopes.com and Politifact.com as other objective tools through which to verify the news.
We identified many issues in our interpretation and sharing of the news, as well as some possible tips and solutions.
Think you can identify false news?
Here are some articles to look at. Try looking closely at the URL, website, author, etc.
We also looked at domain extensions and noticed how they can be a helpful indicator of if a website is legitimate or not...
Which News Sources Can We Trust?
We looked at this infographic (below) of news sources, though it also brings to mind the question: who created this and do we agree with it? Instead of blindly trusting what we think are reliable websites, it's important to read ALL news with a critical eye!
Breaking News Consumer's Handbook
We also looked at this list of suggestions, from NPR, which focuses on strategies for breaking news, and urges a patient and thoughtful approach.
Looking for addtional resources?
Websites to verify (or debunk) false news/rumors:
(From their website) We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
(From their website) With over 20 years' experience as a professional researcher and writer, David Mikkelson has created in snopes.com what has come to be regarded as an online touchstone of rumor research. The site's work has been described as painstaking, scholarly, and reliable, and has been lauded by the world's top folklorists, including Jan Harold Brunvand, Gary Alan Fine, and Patricia Turner.
(From their website) PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida, as is PunditFact, a site devoted to fact-checking pundits. The PolitiFact state sites are run by news organizations that have partnered with the Times. The state sites and PunditFact follow the same principles as the national site.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Sometimes a photo or video circulates the internet and seems very convincing. After all, YOU might know how to photoshop images but is someone online really going to take the time to do that? The answer is...quite possibly. We watched the following video and tried to decide if it was real:
Seems legit, right? After all, we've all read Charlotte's Web and know pigs to be wonderful and lovable animals! Actually, it's a fake. The NY Times breaks down how this video was made here...an important reminder not to trust everything you read...or watch!
Verifying Images or Videos Online
Here are some other tips for verifying the accuracy of images or video that you find online:
Additional Library Resources
Finally, here are some additional resources for students interested in this shift in journalism (and issues both on the part of journalists and consumers of news). Feel free to borrow these from the BTHS library!
Citizen Journalism: Valuable, Useless or Dangerous? (Melissa Wall, editor) Call # 070.9 CIT
Citizen Journalism is an anthology of articles that address the rise of citizen-produced news content worldwide. Using digital tools such as YouTube and Twitter, ordinary people are collecting and sharing news that might otherwise never get reported. What does this trend mean for professional journalism and, ultimately, for democracy?
Virtual Unreality: The New Era of Digital Deception (by Charles Seife) Call # 025.04 SEI
Digital information is a powerful tool that spreads unbelievably rapidly, infects all corners of society, and is all but impossible to control—even when that information is actually a lie.
Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload (by B. Kovach and T. Rosenstiel) Call # 070.9 KOV
How do we discern what is reliable? Blur provides a road map, or more specifically, reveals the craft that has been used in newsrooms by the very best journalists for getting at the truth. In an age when the line between citizen and journalist is becoming increasingly unclear, Blur is a crucial guide for those who want to know what's true.
Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism (by Thomas E. Patterson) Call # 070.4 PAT
Information is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. Public opinion and debate suffer when citizens are misinformed about current affairs, as is increasingly the case. Though the failures of today's communication system cannot be blamed solely on the news media, they are part of the problem, and the best hope for something better.
The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (by Samuel Arbesman) Call # 501 ARB
Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing.
Samuel Arbesman shows us how knowledge in most fields evolves systematically and predictably, and how this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives. He takes us through a wide variety of fields, including those that change quickly, over the course of a few years, or over the span of centuries.
Ms. Drusin is one of the librarians at the Brooklyn Tech Library. We look forward to seeing you in the library!