The months of October and November remind us of the need for media and information literacy. October commemorates Health Literacy Month and National Media Literacy Week (3rd week of October). And of course November brings Election Day. There is so much information to digest in such a short period of time. To facilitate this, our intern Willow Bryar assembled the following fact-checkers (in no particular order) to help us with deeper inquiry and investigation.
FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics as well as other topics related to healthcare and science. It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.(For example, their AskSciCheck includes answers to science questions about public policy issues. Read the “Facts on E-Cigarettes” posted in 2017). Their goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding nationwide. Also, if you’ve been wondering, “Is bacon better for you than tilapia?” then this site is for you.
PolitiFact is a nonpartisan fact-checking website to sort out the truth in American politics. PolitiFact was created by the Tampa Bay Times in 2007. In 2018, PolitiFact was acquired by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists. PolitiFact seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases. Their journalists set their own opinions aside as they work to uphold principles of independence and fairness. Each day, PolitiFact journalists look for statements to fact-check. They read transcripts, speeches, news stories, press releases, and campaign brochures; watch TV and scan social media.
The Center for News Literacy Digital Resource Center is a subset of Stony Brook University in New York. This model uses heavily illustrated lectures followed by hands-on exercises to help students understand how journalism works and why information is such a powerful force for good and ill in modern societies. The News Literacy Project hosts interactive workshops and aims to educate both students and teachers how to analyze and find reliable information. Check out the free online course on News Literacy that focuses on the questions: What can I conclude from this news report? and How do I know I’m getting the truth?
Snopes, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, claims to be one of the first online fact-checking websites. It has been described as a “well-regarded source for sorting out myths and rumors” on the Internet. We always document our sources so readers are empowered to do independent research and make up their own minds. Snopes got its start in 1994, investigating urban legends, hoaxes, and folklore. Founder David Mikkelson, later joined by his wife, was publishing online before most people were connected to the internet. As demand for reliable fact checks grew, so did Snopes. Now it’s the oldest and largest fact-checking site online, widely regarded by journalists, folklorists, and readers as an invaluable research companion. Check out “Three Reasons You Should Stop Eating Peanut Butter Cups: A viral post misrepresents the science behind three additives in the popular peanut butter and chocolate treat.”
Sift’s news app offers a (subscription-based) break from the never-ending news cycle—a space where you can pause and think about the issues behind the headlines in order to reduce the anxiety. Sift’s goal is to surface ideas that move conversations forward. For instance: What does the enduring nature of these hot-button issues mean for our society? Sift doesn’t just tell you what’s happening on the topics of immigration, healthcare, and climate change, for example, Instead, it helps you understand why and how we got here, and provides space to reflect, rather than simply react. A 6-month subscription costs $19.99.
When All Turtles—an AI startup studio—started Sift, we thought AI would help produce a better news experience and even simplify complex topics. But we learned that AI is part of the problem. Our user research showed that users value human curation, not based on algorithms that clutter news consumption. [read more]