News literacy

If you are researching current issues at Whatcom Community College Library, try a search through our newspapers or visit US Newsstream, which has recent articles, newspaper archives, wire services, broadcast transcripts, and blogs.

Which news should you trust?

Misinformation is false information. Disinformation is false information that is spread with malicious intent. Malinformation is factual information that is spread with the intent to cause harm, usually taken out of context. There are seven types of Mis- and Dis- information, listed here from from lowest to highest potential for harm:

  1. Satire or parody.
  2. Enticement and misrepresentation for the sake of profit or page views, such as clickbait.
  3. Misleading content using information to intentionally frame something in a biased manner.
  4. False context is mistaken information, for example, a photo being miscaptioned as being at a different time or location.
  5. Imposter content created to look like it came from someone else, often a well-known person or news organization.
  6. Manipulated content altered information, such as a photoshopped image or doctored video.
  7. Fabricated content or completely false information is shared with the intent to deceive and cause harm.

By the way, the News Literacy Project cautions against using the term “fake news” since it has become politicized.

Why should you care if news is real or false?

  1. You deserve the truth. You are smart enough to make up your own mind—as long as you have the real facts in front of you. And you have every right to be insulted when you read fake news, because it means someone wants to manipulate you.
  2. False news destroys your credibility. If your arguments are built on bad information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you in the future.
  3. Fake news can hurt you and a lot of other people. Purveyors of false and misleading medical advice like and help perpetuate myths like “vaccines cause autism.” These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  4. Real news can benefit you. Before buying something expensive, you want evidence of its quality. Before voting, you want authentic information on a candidate so you can choose the person who best represents your ideas and beliefs. Fake news won’t help you spend your money wisely or make the world a better place, but real news can.

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