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COMM 60: Journalism (Davis)

Evaluating Truthfulness

Definitions 

  • Bias - prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair
  • Misinformation - false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive

Sometimes bias and misinformation are easy to spot, often they are not. The more you know about a topic, the less likely you will succumb to bias or misinformation. The biggest challenge is recognizing bias and misinformation in realms we don't know much about.

The best defense against bias and misinformation is skepticism. No statement should be taken at face value. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Emotion-laden language - e.g., "baby killers" or "forced birth"
  • Us vs them appeals / demonize a group
  • Use vague terminology - e.g., "election integrity"
  • Use coded language to convey unspoken meaning - e.g., "bossy" or "black-on-black crime"
  • Uses complicated or confusing reasoning - e.g., conspiracy theories 
  • Defies logic or what you already know about a topic
  • Evidence doesn't support the conclusion(s)

How would you rate these statements for either bias or misinformation?

Jerry Smith is the best coach in women's college soccer.
Bias: 0 votes (0%)
Misinformation: 0 votes (0%)
Both: 0 votes (0%)
Neither: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Russia is carrying out "a special military operation against nationalists to protect the people of Donbas, ensure denazification and demilitarization." (Russian Foreign Ministry)
Bias: 0 votes (0%)
Misinformation: 0 votes (0%)
Both: 0 votes (0%)
Neither: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
"Byzantine laws and regulations administered by a growing cadre of ideological zealots" (Congressman Tom McClintock)
Bias: 0 votes (0%)
Misinformation: 0 votes (0%)
Both: 0 votes (0%)
Neither: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
"Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president"
Bias: 0 votes (0%)
Misinformation: 0 votes (0%)
Both: 0 votes (0%)
Neither: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
“As he did with Antifa, Democrat George Soros has these thugs on payroll." (Candace Owen)
Bias: 0 votes (0%)
Misinformation: 0 votes (0%)
Both: 0 votes (0%)
Neither: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0