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How to Fact Check! Part 9: Checking website bias

So we’ve figured out how to check an individual claim, but we haven’t really touched on the idea of media bias. Luckily for us, Media Bias Fact Check is here to help!

Media bias fact check is a website that ranks other websites based on their tendency for biased reporting. For example, snopes.com is considered to be mostly non-biased. If you’re curious about their conclusions, here’s their Methodology.

It’s important to note that a website’s bias is not necessarily indicative of their article’s accuracy. Reality is complex. There are many sides to every story. Two articles can cover the same event, tell different stories, and still both be factual. Everyone has an opinion. Media Bias Fact Check, like many of the other websites we’ve provided over the last few weeks, is a tool to help you make informed decisions online and should be used in conjunction with claim-checking sites to get a full picture of a website’s veracity.

 

Town of Ulster Library Budget passed 48 Yes/10 No

Town of Ulster Library Budget passed, 48/10
Bruce Engholm was reelected to 3 year term (44 votes)
People that received write-in votes for the remaining two full terms will be contacted to confirm their willingness.

How to Fact Check! Part 8: Going Upstream

So we’ve talked about reading laterally, but there’s another dimension to check out when you’re looking for the facts behind a claim: Up!

The best thing to do when checking a claim is to go straight to the source.  Going “upstream,” as it were, is a foundational skill in fact-checking because many news websites are mostly just “reporting on reporting,” which means that they’re just repeating things other news outlets have said. Figuring out the credibility of the hosting site does nothing, as they’re just parroting somebody else.

Our advice is this: Pay close attention to key phrases like “According to…”  “[This news site] reported…” “In a report…” or something similar. Then, check out those sources and use the resources we’ve discussed (like Snopes or PolitiFact) to check the credibility of the claims!

Don’t waste your time on a wild goose chase! You can never go wrong checking the source of any dubious claim you come across. As a final note: if the site won’t provide sources, you’re looking at the wrong websites for information.

Meet the Candidates

Proposed Budget Meeting, ‘Meet the Candidates’ Night Takes Place

Monday, August 27th

6-6:30 PM.

How to Fact Check! Part 7: WHOIS

Who runs the sites you go to? A quick way to find out is to run an ICANN WHOIS search!

ICANN WHOIS is a site dedicated to cataloging the owner of a website and when the website was first established. These pieces of information are vital for figuring out the reliability of a website’s content: you wouldn’t trust a new website run by a company in favor of abolishing vegetables to provide unbiased information on the health benefits of vegetables, for example.

ICANN WHOIS will not always work; many sites are run through proxies, which obscures the actual owner of a website. Still, the date of registration is always available, and it’s a good first step toward learning who is providing the information you’re finding online.

Thank You for GREAT Summer Reading 2018!

We had a great time at our Summer Reading Program Finale. The children were presented with certificates for completing their reading logs. Stewart’s Shops generously donated ice cream cone gift certificates to give as prizes for reading. Thank you to Mr. Chips and Milo, the DJs. They played great music! There was a photo booth with rock and roll props. The Salvation Army was very kind to loan us some of the props. The families also enjoyed snacks and beverages. 

How to Fact Check! Part 6: Reading Laterally…

…otherwise known as evaluating a website by looking at other websites.

In your travels online, you’ve probably come across websites you’re unfamiliar with. How do you know if you can trust their information?  “About” pages are nice, but they aren’t always an unbiased source of information. So first, you should look to see what other people have said about them.

There are three things you want to figure out:

  1. Process: what kind of fact-checking and verification standards does the publication have?
  2. Expertise: are they informed and qualified on the subject at hand?
  3. Aim: what ends are they trying to promote?

The easiest way to find out about a site is to use a search engine. For example, if you type in a website’s name in google as “sitename -site:sitename”, You’ll only get results that aren’t from the website itself.

For more information, check out Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers! It’s a great free ebook that has all kinds of insightful ways to improve your fact-checking prowess. If you like this series, check it out!

How to Fact Check! Part 5, featuring Spark Media!

When consuming and sharing information, it’s important to Read Between the Lines. Luckily Spark Media has a great video on exactly that.

Here are the highlights:

  • Check the sources.
  • Think about biases: what do the wording and tone suggest?
  • Consider your audience before you repost.

UPDATE: Workshop is postponed. Stay Tuned! Spark Media will be coming to our library on August 13th for an in-depth photography workshop for teens!

Teen Art Lab@ Town of Ulster Library, ages 12-16 years, Friday, August 3 at 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Make T-Shirt Art! 👕🎨
Eat pizza! 🍕
12-16 years only, please 😊

How to Fact Check! Part 4: Evaluating an Article

So you’ve become an expert fact checker, and you come across an article that seems a little suspect. How can you tell if a certain article is legitimate without turning to fact-checking sources like Snopes? A great way to find out for yourself is to look at the way the article itself is formed.

To make things easy, we’ve pulled information from This great article and infographic on easybib.com. Here are some highlights:

  • Make sure the headline matches the content of the article.
  • Make sure there’s an author: if there’s a name, there’s credibility, as you can look up all their past articles with a google search.
  • Look for references and citations.  Make sure the information you take in is backed up by a credible source.
  • Make sure quotes are given in context. You can make anyone say anything with a little selective editing.
  • Does the article sound ridiculous? It probably is. Remember to use your common sense as well as fact-checking tools.

For more information, Check out this blog post from easybib going into greater detail.

Here’s an example of how easy it is to make up news! Make sure you stay critical.