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News Savvy: Spotting Misinformation

While preparing for News Savvy: Analyzing the Fake News Phenomenon (a presentation created by Brevard College J.A. Jones Library and Transylvania County Library), we assembled useful information-literacy resources.

Introduction: News Savvy Is a Kind of Literacy

Literacy is the ability to understand graphic symbols and through them, communicate and process complex ideas; it is to read, to write, and to use mathematics. Subcategories of literacy, generally speaking, refer to our ability to understand and interpret the information various channels convey.

When you know how to verify information on current events, to determine what information is believable, you are news savvy. (Click to expand image)

Type of Fake News

European Association for Viewers Interests (@_eavi). "Our new #infographic, Beyond #FakeNews - 10 Types of Misleading News, is a tool for teaching #MediaLiteracy." EAVI Media Literacy, 13 July 2017,


Lately, there has been renewed interest in what's been called "fake news." Though the term is new, we consider it an expansion of the definition of yellow journalism. Both terms describe misinformation. Yellow journalism is, generally speaking, exaggerated and poorly researched news. Fake news, on the other hand, also includes fabricated information, satire unwittingly passed on as fact, misleadingly manipulated information (such as altered photos), and outdated information.

Why Is It Important?

Why should you care about fake news?

In short, you should care because misinformation can harm you and the people and things you care about. Real news gives you a better shot at health and happiness.

Put simply, poor information leads to poor decision-making. A bad financial tip may convince you to make a bad investment. A person might eat a poisonous substance based on dietary misinformation. And false or misleading information may convince voters to elect legislators who work against the public interest.

Conversely, accurate information enables us to make better decisions. This is why the press is so valuable to a democracy.

Do People Really Fall for That Stuff?

It appears that students in the U.S. do have significant difficulty differentiating between trustworthy and unreliable news sources. According to a 2016 Stanford-University study of over 7,800 junior-high, high-school, and college students, 80% of subjects believed an advertisement that contained the phrase "sponsored content" was an actual news story.