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Social Studies Subject Guide: Dialogue for Democracy



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Dialogue for Democracy: Scrutinizing Sources

Goals for the Visit

  • Introduce some reliable fact-checking tools
  • Offer some practice using lateral reading skills
  • Practice checking on the reliability of different kinds of sources
  • Learn how to become fast and efficient at sizing up nearly any website for bias and credibility

Fact Checking Toolbox

This nonprofit organization is affiliated with The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  Provides articles that fact check recent events. Use the top bar menu to search by TOPICS or use SEARCH and plug in keywords to search the entire site.  Very useful website.

"PolitiFact is a nonpartisan fact-checking website to sort out the truth in American politics. PolitiFact was created by the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, in 2007. In 2018, PolitiFact was acquired by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists."  --from their website.  A highly reliable source.

MediaBias/Fact Check is a helpful website for evaluating the history, credibility, and accuracy of news outlets. Use the gray box in the upper left corner to enter the name of the news source. 

The site's mission is to "expose people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other."  They examine news stories from various angles of the political spectrum.

The Poynter Institute teaches "those who manage, edit, produce, program, report, write, blog, photograph and design, whether they belong to news organizations or work as independent entrepreneurs. We teach those who teach, as well as students in middle school, high school and college—the journalists of tomorrow."  --from their website.  A top-notch resource.

Group Challenges
Your task:  You have 10 minutes to decide whether the source and information are reliable. Read the directions under your group's example carefully. 

  • Use lateral reading skills to open at least TWO outside tabs to evaluate the quality and accuracy of the information source.
  • You are reputation checking these sources. What can you learn about their biases, accuracy, and credibility? 

Prepare to report back to the whole group about the steps you took, and what you found out.

The Barnes Review Magazine and Bookstore

This is the website of a publisher.  Please find at least two good sources for background information about this organization, and be ready to tell us what you found out. Once you have your information, look carefully at the Barnes Review website. Are there red flags? If so, what are they?

American Renaissance
This is the website of an organization that publishes articles on a wide range of topics.  Please find at least two good sources for background information about them.  Once you have found your sources, take a closer look at the American Renaissance website.  Are there red flags? If so, what are they?


Biden Says Covid-19 Pandemic is "Over" in US

When the President speaks, people listen. Please fact check the accuracy of Biden's statement using at least two good sources. Be sure to use as one of your sources.  Once you've done so, take a closer look at the article.  Are there red flags? If so, what are they?

HART: ‘Not In My Vineyard!’ Liberals Scream As DeSantis Air Flies On The Wings Of Their Hypocrisy

Using at least two good sources, apply your lateral reading skills to learn more about the publication that printed this opinion piece.  Be sure to use MediaBias/ as one of your sources. Once you've found information, take a closer look at the article. Are there red flags? If so, what are they?


AllSides Media Bias Chart

This is the Media Bias Chart maintained by AllSides, an organization that helps readers evaluate the political biases of various news outlets.  It's a frequently updated and handy reference tool for quickly estimating the bias of news based on its source. 

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