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Fake News: News Literacy

How to identify and avoid fake news

How news-literate are you?

How to Choose your News

Why news literacy?

In recent years fake and misleading news has become prevalent. It is perhaps unsurprising that Oxford Dictionaries named "post-truth" as its 2016 "Word of the Year." This guide can help readers evaluate news sources for accuracy and harmful bias.

Reasons that fake news has become a growing problem include:

  • The growing use of social media as the primary source for news consumption
    According the a Pew Research Center report over 40% of adults in the US go to Facebook for their news.
  • The appeal of sensational and often false "clickbait" information:  
    News that goes "viral" and is widely share is far more likely to be false or misleading.
  • "Filter bubbles" that result from the personalized web:
    Search engines and social media usually present a us with information intended to fit with own own individual interests and perspective. We then miss information that others with different perspectives are more likely to see.
  • Confirmation bias
    People are predisposed to believe information that fits their worldview and to discount information that does not.

These factors reflect a need to carefully evaluate news sources and where and how we get our news.

Newspaper Databases

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. ... In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam War, the newspapers nobly did that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do."  Supreme Court's majority, 1971

How False News Can Spread

News Media "Watchdogs"

These sources are media watch groups that report on misleading news and seek to prevent inaccurate and misleadning news.    

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR): A national media watch groups. Offers documented criticism of media bias and censorship and works for free speech and greater diversity in the press.

CounterSpin: Weekly radio show that critically examines major news stories and that addresses issues that mainstream media may not have addressed. Seeks to explore biased and inaccurate news and censored stories.

On the Media: Weekly radio show on how the media shapes our world view (from WNYC)

ProPublica: An independent, non-profit investigative journalism newsroom. Seeks to exposee exploitation and to serve the public interest. 

Key Resources

Glossary: The Language of News Literacy (Stony Brook University)

Tips on How to Spot Fake News (

  • Consider the source.
  • Read beyond the headline.
  • Check the author.
  • What's the support?
  • Check the date.
  • Check your biases.
  • Consult the experts.

Six Questions that Will Tell You Which Media to Trust (American Press Institute)

  1. Content type
  2. Source
  3. Evidence
  4. Interpretation
  5. Completeness
  6. Knowledge gained

Key Concepts for Media Literacy (Media Smarts):

  1. Media are constructions.
  2. Audiences negotiate meaning.
  3. Media have commercial implications.
  4. Media have social and political implications.
  5. Each medium has a unique aesthetic form.

Allsides: Compares news coverage from left, right, and center sources

Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a Post-Truth World (School Library Journal)