By Ronny Joe Grooms
The same day Craigslist and Facebook announced a new collaborative effort by major tech companies to combat fake news, Santa Rosa Junior College’s own information scientists conducted a campaign of their own.
FAKE NEWS: NAVIGATING THE SEAS OF MISINFORMATION took place at Doyle Library Monday as part of an ongoing series of SRJC Library workshops that focus on research tools for student’s and faculty’s class assignments and beyond.
This workshop, led by Public Services Librarian and instructor Canon Crawford ,focused on “strategies for recognizing fake news and actively evaluating news information sources.”
Why This Workshop?
Professor Crawford offered the following in his presentation:
- Social Media is fun and dangerous at the same time. There is so much information and connectivity that viral communications can warp the truth in record time. Are the bots taking over?
- Personal experiences with misleading information can be embarrassing. Even professionals and experts are not immune to bad information.
- Combating Fake News takes serious work, critical thinking, and commitment. (From slide)
Feedback from faculty and staff alerted Crawford that the meeting originally scheduled for a smaller meeting room on the third floor of Doyle would have to be moved to larger space as interest in the topic swelled.
Students from political science, communications, information science, and journalism, were all in attendance, as well as others concerned about the phenomenon known as “fake news.”
In his hour-long talk and multimedia presentation of the extensive Fake News Library Guide online, Crawford introduced ideas and tools that he believes are essential to resisting and discerning bad information and fake news. He said consumers of news need to focus on these five key topics:
“Even as a pro, I was disappointed how I behaved in regard to how I handled some information,” Crawford said. He informally polled the room inquiring if others had ever been misled by a fake story or bad information, and a majority of attendees admitted as much, raising their hands or with slow nods.
“As librarians, we focus on information literacy and evaluating sources,” Crawford said.
“Educators are promoting critical thinking skills when encountering the news whether via social media or through traditional news streams or digital news.” (From library fake news resource page)
Defining Fake News
Fake news is unverifiable news that appeals to emotion and is often packaged to be shared widely on social media. It generally falls into these categories:
False or misleading stories or images that are shared on Facebook and social media
Websites that circulate misleading, click-baiting, and/or potentially unreliable information
Satire/comedy sites mistakenly shared as actual news (From library fake news resource page)
“Have you considered the possibility of a filter bubble? It's possible that self-selected feeds limit exposure to alternative viewpoints.” (From library fake news resource page)
Discussing Media Bias
“All news sites contain a degree of bias, and it is difficult to assess the degree. However, attempts have been made to understand the degree of bias.” (From library fake news resource page site)
For further information or assistance, one can contact Canon Crawford, Public Services Librarian, Library & Information Resources at (707) 527-4904 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.