Skip to Main Content

Integrating Media Literacy into the Classroom: News Media

This guide will focus on fake news, fact checking and search tips for the web..

Types of News

Fake News: Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.

Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, satire, and false information to comment on current events.

State-sponsored News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanctions and control. Propaganda.

Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically false or dubious claims.

Hate News: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination.

Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.

Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.

Political: Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.

Credible: Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism. (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).


Adapted from definitions used by Melissa Zimdars' Open Sources project that classifies websites for credibility.

Classroom Activity

1) This is an activity I use often in the library to allow students to be hands on with evaluating information from sources they typically aren't familiar with. 

-Students are placed into small groups.

-Each group is given a packett of 6 different sources. I usually just print out a front page of the article. (NPRMayo ClinicPew Research CenterReal Life Nutritionist, The OnionDC Gazette.)

-They are told to sort the sources into categories. Sources you Definitely Trust, Sources you could Possibly Trust and Sources you would Not Trust. In order to do this they must investigate each source with their group. They are told to go to the source on their computers. I have to remind them not to just read the article or first page but to dig deeper into the actual source. They are allowed to refer to the evaluating websites critera on this lesson. This can take about 30mins to complete.

-After the groups have completed sorting the sources we go through them as a class. I ask why they put a specific source into a specific category. They have to tell us what they found in their investigation. Sometimes groups get stumped and do not come to the same conclusion as me. We discuss this as a class. Discussion can take about 15mins.

To consider:

  • The academic community has gravitated towards a set of definitions that identifies disinformation as intentional, and misinformation as unintentional. Under this kind of definition, false narratives can be either dis- or misinformation, based on the intention of the spreader.
  • Because intent is notoriously difficult to determine in social science, it may be best to speak of dis- and misinformation together.
  • “Fake News” is seen as a highly problematic, politicized term, and most disinformation scholars tend to avoid it.

Cited from MediaWell, a Social Science Research Council

Google Slide Presentation