Is it fake news? Ask your library

This week's Ponoka Jubilee Library Column looks at tips to discerning real news from fake news.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

By Dan Galway, Ponoka Jubilee Library Manager

Many of you have undoubtedly heard the term “fake news” circulating with regard to the Donald Trump presidency and his criticism of the mainstream media.

Because of the Internet and its increasing importance in our lives, we are in an unprecedented era of access to information. With this ease of access come some drawbacks, “fake news” being one.

If you use social media, you are likely familiar with articles appearing or being shared in your news feed with questionable headlines or sources. This information can often be misleading if not outright false and it can be difficult to tell the difference between real and fake news.

Luckily, there are some ways to spot fake news, suggested by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (2016):

1. Consider the source. If something seems fishy, click around the site and check it’s mission and contact info. You may find that the site has an inherent bias, which would compromise the credibility of the reporting

2. Read Beyond. Don’t just read the headline! Read the whole story before making a judgment.

3. Check the author. Search Google to verify that the author is credible and real.

4. Supporting sources? If there are links to support a website’s claims, check them out to make sure they support the story.

5. Check the date. Old news stories may not be relevant to current events, and can be placed out of context to support a false narrative.

6. Is it a joke? If it seems ridiculous, it might be. Make sure to check the site and author.

7. Check your biases. Sometimes our own beliefs can get in the way of a sound judgment. Consider this when evaluating information sources.

8. Ask the experts. Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site such as factcheck.org.

These steps are helpful in determining the validity of a source. News sites nowadays seem to either wear their bias on their sleeve or conceal in an effort to gain readership. There are some resources online to help with judging the bias of news agencies that are readily available through a Google search.

Coming up this month at Ponoka Jubilee Library we have our regular Friday Story times from 11 a.m. to noon, Saturday Family Drop-in programs (first three Saturdays of the month), Lego club on March 10 and 24 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Tech Help for Seniors on March 13, Life Stories with Derek (an ex-motorcycle gang member making good) on March 15, an adult film screening of Grizzly Man on March 23 as well as a kids film screening of The Princess Bride on March 25.

I would also like to mention that our ‘Blind Date With a Book’ program concluded Feb. 28. We drew our gift basket on March 1. I would specifically like to thank some of the local businesses who made this program possible through their donations: Walrus and the Carpenter, Sister Country Rustics, Tangles Hair Design & Salon, Ponoka Hair Loft and Altitude Laser Spa.