CLA: Civic Readiness Project
From the CLA Public Life Project
"Public life in the United States today is fractured and often even toxic. Individuals and communities find it difficult, if not impossible to connect across political, religious, and regional lines. And these differences have made their way onto campuses across the country, presenting new challenges for student life, classroom learning, and vibrant intellectual exchange. We believe that a strong liberal arts education can help to address these challenges head-on."
Watch: CLA Public Life Project - In pursuit of Knowledge and Information (4 mins)
- "I think one of the biggest divides in this country has to do with where people get information from" - Dr. Benjamin Toff, professor of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Finding a variety of perspectives
"The core of a liberal arts education is learning how to take information and then use that information to make an argument to people who you might disagree with." Dr. William P Jones, Professor of History from the Public Life Project.
Information is all around us. One job you have, as UMN students (and human), is to continue to build skills to find and critical evaluate the information you use in your daily life, in your conversations and in your academic or classwork. The goal is not to find information you agree with but to be exposed to and grow tolerance and then understanding for why people have different beliefs about complex topics, issues, events and situations.
How do we evaluate information when we find it?
We all have ways to get information -- over time we learn what we can trust and what we can't. When learning about new topics or topics we are unfamiliar with - it can be challenging to know what to trust, what is fact and what is opinion. Finding multiple sources which have similar information is on technique.
- Learn more: Evaluating Sources (from University of California-Berkley Libraries)
Be aware of your search terms and keywords
When searching for information or source -- using Google or a tool like a library article database -- be aware of your search terms and how they can impact your results. Using biased or "charged" search terms or keywords will lead to results that are similarly biased. For example, searching for "product safety" vs. "consumer protection" will influence the information you find. Be aware and add new terms to your search as you learn more about the topic.
- Learn more: Identifying Bias (from University of Wisconsin -Green Bay Library)
Be aware of misinformation and disinformation (a.k.a #fakenews)
Some information is simple false and wrong. There are many motivations -- usually involving money $$ -- from clicks to paid promotions to foreign interference -- for sites or sources to have wrong information. Learn some red flags that should make you pause and verify - like strange URLs, no authors, major grammatical errors, extreme language, and more.
- Learn more: Fake News & Disinformation (from Central Washington University Libraries)
Be aware of algorithms and filter bubbles
Search engines and social media have algorithms that cater to our interests. Sounds great - until we become isolated in our "filter bubbles." Watch: How Filter Bubbles isolate you (2 mins) to learn more.
"Algorithms of oppression : how search engines reinforce racism" by Safiya Umoja Noble (view online book in UMN Libraries)
Be aware of information privilege
Information (even digital) isn't free to create. Some sites and sources use advertising to help pay for it and others are charging to view. Libraries pay publishers to have access to journals, magazines, and newspapers. Having an awareness of some of the economics behind information (e.g. open access) can help make judgements about using and evaluating information.
- Learn more: Information privilege (from City University of Seattle Library)
Major news sources
Not every story gets it right every time. However many sources strive for accuracy and have processes in place to correct errors when they happen. You you read articles and stories look at multiple sources of information and see if the facts are holding up.
Many news sources have two major types of content:
- "News articles" that are written by trained professionals that use journalistic techniques to find and report facts. These types of stories try to give an accurate and balanced report of an event or topic. These are usually on the "front" page of a newspaper.
- "Opinions or Editorials" (or Op/Eds) are written to share an opinion on an event or topic. These often talk about a person's individual experience and are NOT "fact checked" and are NOT written in a "balanced" way showing multiple perspectives.
Both are valid. Generally a range of sources can help to give background and context for complex issues and events.
In the "advanced search" in most newspaper databases you can limit to "editorial" or "editorial cartoon" or "article" or "feature."
- Access World NewsFull-text news from over 9,000 news sources in the U.S. and international newspapers, major wire services, and hundreds of local broadcasting outlets and blogs. There are over 100 Minnesota sources. Mostly English language news coverage with some 200 titles in Spanish, French, Afrikaans and other languages.
- U.S. Newsstream This link opens in a new windowSearch the most recent premium U.S. news content, as well as archives which stretch back into the 1980s featuring newspapers, newswires, blogs, and news sites in active full-text format.
- International Newsstream This link opens in a new windowInternational news from newspapers, newswires, transcripts, and digital-only news sites in full-text format. Over 800 of the world's top news sources.
Turn the channel: Seek out alternative viewpoints
Often, it is helpful to seek out a range of human experience and a range of perspectives. This can be done by reaching out to people with a different background than ours and having conversations and listening. Also reading books, watching documentaries or listening to podcasts or music from authors or creators with difference experiences. And also working to find alternative viewpoints. Try these tools to find alternative sources of information. There are smaller, high-quality sources of news and information which seek out a range of experiences and perspectives.
Why use alternative sources?
"These sources tend to be written from an acknowledged political perspective–for example, liberal or conservative–and they often promote a specific agenda. They might, however, report on news that is of interest to a specific community–often a marginalized one–without endorsing any defined ideology. Examples of these might be African American newspapers, gay and lesbian magazines, military newspapers, or publications of immigrant groups."
- Ethnic NewsWatchEthnic NewsWatch is a current resource of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press from 1990, providing researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives.
- Black Historical Newspapers This link opens in a new windowAfrican American newspapers that are included in the ProQuest Historical Newspaper collection: Atlanta Daily World (1931-2010), Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988), Chicago Defender (1909-2010), Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1991), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Louisville Defender (1951-2010), Michigan Chronicle (1939-2010), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), Norfolk Journal and Guide (1916-2010), Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2010)
- Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980Hundreds of searchable Spanish newspapers printed in the U.S. during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
- American Indian NewspapersFrom historic pressings to contemporary periodicals, explore nearly 200 years of Indigenous print journalism from the US and Canada. With newspapers representing a huge variety in publisher, audience and era, discover how events were reported by and for Indigenous communities.
- GenderWatchSearch articles from journals, etc. that focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas such as the women's movement, men's studies, the transgender community and the changes in gender roles.
- LGBT Magazine ArchiveSearch the full contents of 26 leading LGBT magazines. Covers the history and evolution of myriad aspects of LGBT history and culture, including legal contexts, health, lifestyle, politics, social attitudes, activism, gay rights, and arts/literature.
- Independent VoicesOpen access digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals drawn from special collections and individual donors. Covers periodicals of feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines from 1950 to the present.
Minnesota News Resources
The newspapers and news sources below are non-partisan, reputable sources that focus on Minnesota-related topics, candidates, and issues. Be aware that many news sources, including some below, publish opinion or editorial pieces that are the author's opinion on a subject and not meant to be purely factual reporting. All articles as such will be labeled as opinion pieces or editorials, but they are published alongside regular news reports and articles.
- Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) NewsDivision of MPR focusing on up-to-the minute news and in-depth coverage of issues.
- Minnesota ReformerIndependent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to keeping Minnesotans informed and unearthing stories other outlets can’t or won’t tell.
- MinnPostNon-profit publisher of online news and analysis by professional journalists about the Twin Cities. The site features video and audio as well as written stories, commentary, and comments from readers.
- Minneapolis Star TribuneMinnesota's largest newspaper featuring news from the Twin Cities metro, the state, and beyond. Some articles can be viewed by non-subscribers online; full-text access is also available for UMN affiliates via the "Library Access to Minnesota Newspapers" link below.
- Saint Paul Pioneer PressMinnesota's oldest newspaper focusing on news from St. Paul, the greater Twin Cities area, the MN Capitol, and across the state. Some articles can be viewed by non-subscribers online; full-text access is also available for UMN affiliates via the "Library Access to Minnesota Newspapers" link below.
- Sahan JournalIndependent, nonprofit digital newsroom fully dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and with immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota.
- Library Access to Minnesota NewspapersUMN affiliates can gain current and historical access to the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Duluth News Tribune, and more.
Check the Facts
- PolitifactFact-checking journalism is the heart of PolitiFact. Our core principles are independence, transparency, fairness, thorough reporting and clear writing. The reason we publish is to give citizens the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy.
- Teen Fact Checking NetworkThe MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network (TFCN) publishes fact-checks for teenagers, by teenagers. TFCN fact-checks are unique in that they debunk misinformation and teach the audience media literacy skills so they can fact-check on their own.
- Snopes.comInternet site for researching urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.
- FactCheck.orgThe Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania monitors claims from major U.S. politicians in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.
Sample of online books
- The Anatomy of Fake News : a critical news literacy education byISBN: 9780520975842Publication Date: 2020-08-04Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, concerns about fake news have fostered calls for government regulation and industry intervention to mitigate the influence of false content. These proposals are hindered by a lack of consensus concerning the definition of fake news or its origins. Media scholar Nolan Higdon contends that expanded access to critical media literacy education, grounded in a comprehensive history of fake news, is a more promising solution to these issues. The Anatomy of Fake News offers the first historical examination of fake news that takes as its goal the effective teaching of critical news literacy in the United States. Higdon employs a critical-historical media ecosystems approach to identify the producers, themes, purposes, and influences of fake news. The findings are then incorporated into an invaluable fake news detection kit. This much-needed resource provides a rich history and a promising set of pedagogical strategies for mitigating the pernicious influence of fake news.
- Beyond Fake News : finding the truth in a world of misinformation byISBN: 9781000222531Publication Date: 2020-09-22The world is swimming in misinformation. Conflicting messages bombard us every day with news on everything from politics and world events to investments and alternative health. The daily paper, nightly news, websites, and social media each compete for our attention and each often insist on a different version of the facts. Inevitably, we have questions: Who is telling the truth? How would we know? How did we get here? What can we do? Beyond Fake News answers these and other queries. It offers a technological and market-based explanation for how our informational environment became so polluted. It shows how purveyors of news often have incentives to mislead us, and how consumers of information often have incentives to be misled. And it chronicles how, as technology improves and the regulatory burdens drop, our information-scape becomes ever more littered with misinformation. Beyond Fake News argues that even when we really want the truth, our minds are built in such a way so as to be incapable of grasping many facts, and blind spots mar our view of the world. But we can do better, both as individuals and as a society. As individuals, we can improve the accuracy of our understanding of the world by knowing who to trust and recognizing our limitations. And as a society, we can take important steps to reduce the quantity and effects of misinformation.
- Responsible Journalism in Conflicted Societies : trust and public service across new and old divides byISBN: 9781003178217Publication Date: 2022-09-30Setting out multiple perspectives from media and journalism scholars, this collection addresses the implications that today's technological, socio-political, and economic conditions have for relations between journalists, sources, audiences, and wider publics. Applying an inclusive concept of 'conflicted societies' that goes beyond those affected by violent conflict to include traditionally 'stable' but increasingly polarised democracies, such as the UK and the USA, contributors engage with longstanding questions and new challenges surrounding concepts of responsibility, trust, public service, and public interest in journalism. The unique span of studies offers international scope, including societies often overlooked in media and journalism studies, such as Northern Ireland, Turkey, Cyprus, Pakistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. Chapters also feature contemporary case studies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as a route into understanding the pertinent issue of fake news, and the 'local turn' in journalism. Responsible Journalism in Conflicted Societies is not only a valuable resource for those studying conflict reporting and international journalism but will also appeal to scholars working at the intersection of media, journalism, communication, peace, conflict, and security studies.
- Playing with Reality : denying, manipulating, converting, enhancing what is there byISBN: 9781003256601Publication Date: 2022-03-10This volume explores how and why we deny, or manipulate, or convert, or enhance reality. Finding it important to come to terms with reality, with what is there before us, and, with reality however defined, to live responsibly, this collection takes a truly multidisciplinary approach to examining the idea that history, the truth, facts, and the events of the present time can be refashioned as prismatic, theatrical, something we can play with for agendas either noble or ignoble. An international team of contributors considers the issue of how and why, in dealing what is there before us, we play with reality by employing theatre, fiction, words, conspiracy theories, alternate realities, scenarios, and art itself. Chapters delve into issues of fake news, propaganda, virtual reality, theatre as real life, reality TV, and positive ways of refashioning and enhancing your own reality. Drawing on examples from film studies to sociology, from the social sciences to medicine, this volume will appeal to scholars and upper-level students in the areas of communication and media studies, comparative literature, film studies, economics, English, international affairs, journalism, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and theatre.
- Algorithms of Oppression byISBN: 9781479849949Publication Date: 2018-02-20In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. As search engines and their related companies grow in importance--operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond--understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance.