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The Goal of the Assignment
In this information case study, you will choose an issue or question that matters to you in your own life. It should be something you’ve seen in the news or on social media that you’ve wondered about but that also has some importance to you or even a potentially direct impact on your life. It would be best if you had some kind of emotional reaction to the social media post or news piece or website that you choose.
This is NOT a full research paper. This assignment is meant to mimic what might actually be something you could do in your real life when you encounter information that is confusing or contradictory. It is meant to help you practice using fact-checking tools, high quality journalism of verification, and other high quality sources of information to help you decide what to do when confronted with information you don’t know if you can trust. It is also designed to help you pull the threads of the class together.
1. Ideally, what you choose for this would be something that comes across your social media feeds. Some examples:
a. a meme criticizing (or supporting) “the Green New Deal”
b. a post reference a “news” article from a suspicious source claiming that there is a movement to abolish all police officers in your city
c. a “fact” that teachers in your state have the lowest salaries of all the 50 states
d. a reference to a blog post by an “expert” who says vaccines cause austim, etc.
If you don’t see anything suitable, I would suggest searching youtube.com or finally Google News or Google. Ideally you are looking for something that ISN’T from a high quality journalism of verification site (like the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, etc.). Opinion pieces from those sites could work though because the point of this assignment isn’t necessarily to find misinformation, but to practice investigating something you see or read online. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a link to your proposed choice and I will give you an idea of how well it might work for this assignment!
2. Provide a link to the social media post or video (if you can’t link to the post, then provide a description of it including who posted it, when, and on what platform.) A screenshot would be helpful but isn’t required. If you choose a news article or news video instead, it would be best if this was a short news article or video from a news source OTHER than one of the high-quality sources we have been talking about this semester.
3. Write a brief paragraph explaining why this topic/issue/piece of information piqued your interest, what was your initial emotional reaction to this post or piece of news, what your initial belief about the topic is, and what questions you have about it.
4. Write a paragraph about the post, video, or news piece. Who wrote or produced it? When was it written or produced? What expertise does the person or organization behind it claim to have? What is the point or argument that the piece is trying to make? And perhaps most importantly, what is the evidence they are using? Who are the experts they are referencing? Do they cite any studies? What type of studies are they?