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Digging for accuracy: How information literacy helps you uncover the facts

Posted on April 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

BY CRYSTAL MILLER

In the digital age, we are bombarded with news articles, ads, and memes—all trying to convey some kind of information. Deciphering which pieces of news are legitimate and unbiased takes some skills that we can all learn.

These skills are especially important right now, as we are being inundated with news, possible cures, and statistics regarding the novel coronavirus. In the digital age, it’s not just about finding information—it’s about evaluating the information and using critical thinking skills to figure out what is factual and what isn’t.

I invite you to check out these tips and resources to help you grow your news and information literacy skills that help you sift through the mounds of information to find factual knowledge.

TOOLS & TIPS

The SIFT Method

The SIFT method aids in “evaluating information in a digital world and fact-checking your feed.” The University of Oregon Libraries created an infographic describing The SIFT Method, which stands for:

  • STOP: Do you know the website or source of information?
  • INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE: A fact-checking site like www.snopes.com can be useful.
  • FIND TRUSTED COVERAGE: Looking at multiple sources to find a consensus can be helpful.
  • TRACE TO THE ORGINAL: Finding the original source for information will help you to see if the information was accurately presented.

You can view the entire infographic to learn more about each of the SIFT components.

Spotting Fake News

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has an infographic called How to Spot Fake News that includes information in these areas:

  • Consider the Source
  • Read Beyond
  • Check the Author
  • Supporting Sources?
  • Check the Date
  • Is it a Joke?
  • Check Your Biases
  • Ask the Experts (your friendly librarians can help!)

DIGITAL LIBRARY RESOURCES

NewsBank

Explore over 11,000 reliable news sources from around the globe, including national, regional and local coverage and featuring 137 sources from Washington state with NewsBank.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

Read articles on hundreds of current social issues of interest when using our digital resource Opposing Viewpoints in Context.

US Newsstream

Discover recent and archival U.S. news content from over 250 sources, including The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Journal of Business with US Newsstream.

You’ll find even more resources in our Digital Library to help you find accurate and reliable information. Check out the digital resources in these categories: Magazines & Newspapers and Journal Articles & Academic Research.

OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES

News Literacy Project

For ways to teach children about information literacy, check out News Literacy Project. It is a national education nonprofit offering nonpartisan, independent programs that teach students how to know what to trust in the digital age.

You can test your news literacy know-how with their app Informable, where you score points for accuracy and speed across three levels of difficulty in four distinct modes.

They are offering no-cost news literacy lessons with their online platform, Checkology. The Checkology virtual classroom is currently free to educators and parents in the U.S. who are now engaged in distance or in-home learning as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Snopes

Snopes is a fact-checking site that has been in operation for over 25 years. They define themselves this way: “We are the internet’s go-to source for discerning what is true and what is total nonsense.”  

They offer some tips for using their website:

  • Search: Thousands upon thousands of fact checks and investigations live in Snopes archives that you can search.
  • Discover: Shortcut to the most popular or most recent content when you visit the Hot 50 and What’s New pages.
  • Submit: Can’t find what you’re looking for? Send Snopes a note. Your tip could be their next assignment.

You can dig deeper into their process on their About web page.

PolitiFact

PolitiFact is a Pulitzer Prize winning site run by journalists who seek “to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.” You can search by people, states, issues, media, and the Truth-O-Meter, among other things. The site also fact-checks social media posts, and you can suggest a fact-check as well.

RELIABLE SOURCES OF COVID-19 INFORMATION

These sources provide credible information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a challenge for all of us. The better informed we are, the better equipped we will be to handle what comes our way next. I hope these tools, tips, and resources help you gather the factual and reliable knowledge you seek.

I encourage you to use our Ask a Librarian web form to contact the library if you’re ever unsure about the validity of information. Our library staff will do our best to assist you to verify if information is legitimate and reliable.

Librarian Crystal Miller

Crystal Miller is a Business and Career Development Librarian and has been working in libraries for 15 years. She has a Masters in Library Science from Simmons College and has worked at the Harvard Development Office Library, MIT Libraries, and the Coeur d’Alene Public Library. When she’s not at the library, she can be found at the dog park with her three fur babies or with a cookbook in hand, flipping through the pages, looking for the next recipe to try out.

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