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Lemieux Library
Lemieux Library

Navigating Information

Understanding how we get information and why that matters.

Common Words and Phrases in Media Debates Defined

Advocacy Journalism- A type of journalism in which journalists openly and intentionally support particular political parties, persons, or candidates.

EX: My friend works for a feminist blog that supports women’s rights. She calls herself an advocacy journalist.  

Bias- Perspective that is heavily influenced in favor of one group, person, cause, or idea in comparison to another.

EX: This news site always writes in favor of candidates from the Democratic party. They clearly have a strong liberal bias.

Click Bait- Sensational headlines, often exaggerated or fake, used to lure internet users into clicking on a certain article, thereby garnering ad revenue for a website.

EX: There’s an ad going around the internet right now about the world’s comfiest sweatshirt, but really it’s just click bait.

Editorial- An article in which the author states a clear opinion. These are often published in an “Editorial” or “Opinion” section on legitimate news sites.

EX: The essay they wrote in opposition to voter ID laws was a well-argued editorial.

Evaluating Sources- Determining whether sources are credible, authoritative, and relevant to your purposes.

EX: It is best to avoid using sketchy information in your research papers, which is why evaluating sources is so important.

Fact-Checking- Examining sources to determine whether a given claim is accurate.

EX: Large newspapers often employ several journalists just to complete fact-checking on reporters’ work.

Fake News- False information that is intentionally published to look like news, and therefore deceive readers into thinking it is true and accurate information. Often for political or financial gain.

EX: The assertion that the Pope had endorsed the President was fake news. It never happened.

Independent News- News organizations that are not owned or financially influenced by corporations, and are not influenced by government interests or regulations. (Sometimes called “alternative news” or “alternative media.”)

EX: CNN, ABC, NBC, and FOX news are not independent news sources because they are all owned and heavily influenced by wealthy corporations.

Information literacy- The ability of a person to find and use information, and to effectively evaluate the credibility and relevance of that information.

EX: Many high school students can’t tell the difference between an ad and a newspaper article, proof that more information literacy instruction is needed in schools.

Junk science- Fake or misleading claims that are presented as scientific fact, often used by lawyers in court, or by politicians to support a political agenda.

EX: The scientist’s testimony suggesting that cigarettes are not addictive was nothing but junk science.

Not-for-profit news- A news organization that does not seek to make a profit, often relying on donations and grants. Can be heavily biased or can be nonpartisan.

EX: The Associated Press is one of the most famous examples of not-for-profit news.

Partisan- Supports the agenda of a political party, ideology, or cause.

EX: The NRA is a partisan lobby organization. They exclusively advocate for candidates who oppose gun control.

Peer review- A process used in the academic publishing industry whereby academics read and critique the work of others in their field before it is deemed fit for publication.

EX: Her article on social work spent more than two years being critiqued in the peer review stage before a journal decided to publish it.

Predatory publishing- A tactic used by companies seeking to profit off of academics. These companies often publish “fake” academic journals.

EX: The graduate student paid several hundred dollars to be published in this journal. It’s a clear example of predatory publishing.

Propaganda- Media that is created and shared for the sole purpose of persuading people to support or oppose a particular cause or way of thinking.

EX: The candidate is supporting a propaganda campaign regarding health care, hoping people will oppose the new law.

Satire- The use of sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and ridicule to make a point about a person or a cause.

EX: Saturday Night Live often relies on satire, like Melissa McCarthy portraying Sean Spicer, to criticize Republican politicians.

Tabloid- A publication or website that covers sensationalized pop culture gossip, usually regarding celebrity relationships and personal lives.

EX: The tabloids have written a lot of false stories about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt over the years.