ESCAPE: Fact-Checking Internet Sources (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of Kinda Sus: Fact-Checking Internet Sources!

Whether you are working on a research project, reading the news, or just looking up something of interest, it’s important that you always fact-check the information you find. Think like the crewmates in Among Us and get skeptical.


If you aren’t familiar with Among Us, it’s a game of teamwork, trust, but ultimately, πŸ’€DECEPTIONπŸ’€ ! Crewmates work as a team on a spaceship to complete a list of tasks, but there are imposters among them attempting to sabotage their work.

Like Among Us, it’s sometimes hard to know when information on the internet is going to help us achieve our goal (be better informed) or sabotage our success (give us bad information).

To avoid being sabotaged, you can evaluate the information you find on the internet to determine if it is legit or looking kinda sus. Ask yourself questions about the internet source you found to determine if it is something you should trust. These can be news website, blog, Twitter post, or even YouTube video.

A note for all my crewmates: you don’t need to be paranoid about everything you read on the internet. What you should be is skeptical and conduct your own Emergency Meeting in your head to evaluate what you find.


In Part 1, we talked about the 5 Ws method of evaluating information (Who? What? When? Where? Why?). In Part 2, let’s look at something called the ESCAPE method:

Source: NewseumED (https://newseumed.org/)

This method was created by NewseumED and can be extra helpful when looking at news websites, but it can be used for any kind of website. Each letter of ESCAPE asks you to look for specific clues so you can determine if a source is reliable: Evidence, Source, Context, Audience, Purpose, and Execution.

That’s a lot to remember! This is a little more complicated than using the 5 Ws, but it’s worth learning if you are like most people and get your news online from websites or social media. It helps you sort the good information from the space junk. Let’s take a look at each step.

(The following has been adapted from this checklist.)


When encountering new-to-you information, compare the evidence to see if other sources are saying the same thing.

NewseumED

Look for the information you can verify by checking other sources: names, numbers, places, documents, etc. Basically, if the information is factual, you should see more than one source reporting it.

TRY THIS:

Let’s use the COVID-19 vaccines as a topic. Choose one news source you trust, a government website, and a less traditional source (blog, social media account). Find 3-5 facts that they agree on.


As you explore different content, consider what makes a good source.

NewseumED

In the quote above, we use the word source to mean the person or organization that is providing the information. You want to identify who is behind the information you are looking at: authors, publishers, funders, aggregators, and even social media users.

TRY THIS:

Find a news article about one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Look at who has “touched” the story:

  • Is there an “About” page for the author or publisher?
  • What other stories has this author or publisher shared?
  • If the author isn’t an expert, do they include information like official statements, government statistics and data, interviews or information from other experts?

What’s the big picture? Consider if this is the whole story and weigh other forces surrounding it.

NewseumED

Consider the current events, cultural trends, political goals, or even financial pressures that an author or organization may be affected by. News websites can have slight or extreme bias. See examples HERE and HERE of media bias charts that help us think about the Left/Center/Right biases of online news.

However, you should still be able to get a “big picture” understanding of a topic when reading a story even from a left-leaning or right-leaning news source. If not, the source is not a good one to use.

TRY THIS:

Put the 5 Ws to work! Find a news story about one of the COVID vaccines and see if you can answer basic questions about the topic: Who? What? When? Where? Why? And also … How? Did the article give you enough information to answer those questions? How much was missing? Did you get enough context? If not, is it trustworthy?


As we gather information, we need to consider news that focuses on different audiences.

NewseumED

When evaluating an online resource, think about the intended audience by checking things like: image choices, presentation techniques, language, and content. It’s normal to see differences between news stories that are written by international, national, and local news websites. The facts should agree (the Evidence) but they might approach the topic slightly differently and offer more or less information that makes sense for their audience.

What a source should never do is play on your emotions, reinforce an “us versus them” approach, or push conspiracy theories that “others won’t tell you” or “don’t want you to know.” These are all red flags.

TRY THIS:

Find news stories about COVID-19 vaccines that are made for the audiences below. What is the same? What is different? How could you tell which audience it was written for?

  • Your city
  • Your state
  • The United States
  • Another country

Why something is created can give us an idea of whether we should trust the story enough to use or share with others.

NewseumED

Just like sources have audiences in mind, they are also written with a specific purpose. You can look for clues in the article or on the news website: the publisher’s mission statement, persuasive language or images, stated or unstated agendas, or calls to action or moneymaking tactics.

Some sources want to provide factual information. Other sources might want to entertain you or make you laugh. Some might even do both! You should check out the type of publication, the author’s background, and how the author presents the information.

TRY THIS:

For this example, let’s take a look at different sources covering the same topic: a Dutch inventor, Peter van Wees, has reportedly created a COVID test that involves “screaming” out particles in an air-locked space. How do the sources below cover this story and convey the information? What is the same? What is different?


Pause for a moment to consider not just what a story says but how it presents the information.

NewseumED

The way a source presents the information affects how it impacts you. Look at the style of writing, tone of writing, grammar, image choices, and placement/layout of the information. You can tell a lot about the credibility of a source by how well it’s written and presented. Are there grammar mistakes? Is the tone of the article super emotional or meant to cause panic/fear? What kinds of images are included and do they add to the information or distract?

It’s OK to to use a source that doesn’t have a beautiful website or amazing graphics. Some websites look great but have unreliable content. Take a look at the source as a whole, including the way it’s written, to decide.

TRY THIS:

Find a news article and rate the following things on a scale of 1-10: clarity (how clearly the author presents the information), style (the author’s tone/how well they engage you), grammar/spelling, images/graphics included, layout/format.

What is the lowest score that a story could get in one of the above areas before you consider it untrustworthy?


That’s all for now! Take the ESCAPE method for a spin and see if it helps you find reliable sources for news and research. I’ll be back on the blog with more advice about using information. Until then, see you, Space Cowboys…

πŸ“’ The Libraries are OPEN!

Hi Bolts,

Ms. Finney here with some updates to share. Beginning this week (March 1st, 2021) we are reopening for students to visit during classes, have lunch with us, and borrow books.

It’s important that you understand how this is going to work, so please check out the information below. Our staff have been working hard to reopen the rooms! It may not be the “old way” we did things, but we want to do everything safely. Welcome back!

-Ms. Finney


⚑ Free Stuff! ⚑

First I want to let you know about some free things we are giving away:

  • πŸ“˜ Planners: Having trouble staying organized? Do you like planning out your week on paper better than a digital calendar? We have tons of free planners available in the Cafeteria on each campus. Stop by and pick one up! These planners were donated by Barnes and Noble.
  • πŸ“š Books: Want a free book? We are giving them away in both campus libraries. Check out the descriptions of the books [HERE] or see our displays outside each LMC. Click the link for the request form for your campus, choose your book, and stop by your LMC to pick it up! You can also request a book in person.

πŸ‘‰ Memorial HS Free Book Request | πŸ‘‰ Senior HS Free Book Request


πŸ“… Weekly Schedule πŸ“…

Click the images below to see the weekly schedules for each campus (and where I am each day). At this time we are not open before or after school, but stay tuned for more information as we expand our hours.


πŸ₯ͺ Lunch @ the Library πŸ₯ͺ

We are happy to welcome students back to lunch with us! The new process is going to be different so we can make sure everyone stays healthy and safe. Here are the basics:

  • Memorial HS: Open for lunches on most Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Senior HS: Open for lunches on most Mondays and Thursdays
  • We are currently limiting lunches to 4 students per lunch
  • Sign up for lunch using a Google form that will be active from 7:15 – 10:35 AM on the day you are coming to lunch

See the flyer below for more details and QR codes that link to the forms:


πŸ“š Borrowing Books πŸ“š

We are now lending books to students and staff. We have a process to make sure we properly quarantine and keep everything clean and safe. See the flyers below for how this is going to work if you are visiting us to check out or requesting a book online:


Morning Music

Last week we shared in the Bolts Broadcast that we are bringing back Morning Music! We need requests from students and staff, so click the link below for your campus to request a song for us to play before the Block 1 bell:

πŸ‘‰ Memorial HS Morning Song Request | πŸ‘‰ Senior HS Morning Song Request

Kinda Sus: Fact-Checking Internet Sources (Part 1)

Whether you are working on a research project, looking for news about COVID-19 or the election, or just catching up on your Twitter feed, it’s important that you always fact-check the information you find.

If you aren’t familiar with Among Us, it’s a game of teamwork, trust, but ultimately, πŸ’€DECEPTIONπŸ’€ ! Crewmates work as a team on a spaceship to complete a list of tasks, but there are imposters among them attempting to sabotage their work.

Like Among Us, it’s sometimes hard to know when information on the internet is going to help us achieve our goal (be better informed) or sabotage our success (give us bad information).

To avoid being sabotaged, you can evaluate the information you find on the internet to determine if it is legit or looking kinda sus. I’m going to share two different tools (one will be my next blog post) you can use to ask yourself questions about the internet source you found to determine if it is something you should trust. These can be news website, blog, Twitter post, YouTube video, whatever!

A note for all my crewmates: you don’t need to be paranoid about everything you read on the internet! What you should be is skeptical and conduct your own Emergency Meeting in your head to evaluate what you find.

The 5 Ws

The first tool is called the 5 Ws and I bet you can guess what those 5 Ws are: Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Take a look at the internet source you found and ask yourself questions like these:

  • Who wrote (or recorded) this and are they an expert?
  • What information is included and does this information differ from other sources?
  • When was the information posted (and when was it last updated)?
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Why is this information useful for my goal?

Let’s use the example of internet sources related to Among Us:

Example 1:

If we open the first example, we can see that it is an article on the website Game Informer. If you aren’t familiar with it, clicking around the site or Googling it in a new tab will tell you this is a gaming magazine and website.

Who? We know the publication is Game Informer and the author is Lianna Rupert. We checked on the publication already, but we could search the website for information about the author to see what else she has published, or find her online to check her qualifications.

What? The article clearly identifies itself as a game review in the very beginning. This means it will be a combination of facts about the game itself and the reviewer’s opinion of the game.

When? This article was published online on September 29, 2020. This means it is very recent and up-to-date, so the information is good!

Where? The information in the review comes from the reviewer’s experience of playing the game and her personal analysis and opinion of the game. Again, this means that we need to separate the facts about the game from the author’s opinion of it.

Why? Is this information useful for your goal? It all depends on what your goal is. If you are looking for reliable reviews of Among Us by a professional gaming website, this source is great for your goal.

However, if you are looking for news from the developers of the game (see Example 3) or information about how to install it and the basics of playing, you might want to look elsewhere.

Your Turn

Take a look at the second and third examples linked above and ask the same questions. Your “Why?” question will always depend on what your goal is!

The next blog post will introduce you to evaluating online news using the ESCAPE method. See you then!

MHS Libraries Digital Menu

Welcome back to a weird new school year, Bolts. We want you to know that the MHS Libraries are here to support you, whether you are Orange, Blue, or Virtual. Even if you can’t swing by the Media Center like you used to do, there are still ways we can connect.

One of those ways is sharing all the resources we have for you online. You may not have access to our bookshelves right now (we care about your health and safety) but what you do have access to are e-books and databases that are chock full of information and stories.

Right now we have a Digital Menu so you can see what we have to offer. There are links you can click to go directly to the resource. Just make sure you know the username and password (you can find them [HERE] — make sure you are signed in to your Millville Google account!).

We will be posting blog updates here with changes to how we are going to run things at the start of hybrid learning. We hope you all understand that all of the changes are necessary and meant to keep everyone safe. We miss you, and make sure to also follow us on Instagram, where we will also be sharing fun stuff and hope to connect with you. πŸ™‚

Ms. Finney

New Books!

Attention Bolts staff and students: the new books are in on both Millville HS campuses! Check out the slide shows below to see all of our new titles. Want to check out a book that is on the other campus? Just let our staff know and we will pick up the book for you!

Happy reading, everybody. ❀

-Ms. Finney

Senior HS Campus: New Books

Memorial HS Campus: New Books

Database Update!

Welcome back, Bolts!

We have updated the username and password for all of our research databases. Students at both Memorial and Senior High will now use the same login information.

Please click the link below to access a Google Doc with the updated login information. You must log in with your Millville Public Schools Google account in order to access this document.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Ms. Finney.

Updated Database Login Information [Click to access]