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Sifting the News: Reading for Bias and Point of View  

Designed to help students identify the language of bias in political information sources by providing real-world examples of left- and right-wing writing on the open web.
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2017 URL: http://linfield.libguides.com/siftingthenews Print Guide RSS Updates

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News Sources

Outlets for news and information, including (or analogous to) newspapers and magazines. Usually sponsored by journalistic organizations or companies. Includes sources available in Web and Print, as well as those available on the Web Only.

Current Events In Talk Radio

Websites for talk radio personalities.

Blogs

News outlets maintained by individuals or small organizations. Some are barely distinguishable from larger news outlets in terms of visibility and appearance.

Media Watchdog Sites

Sites that focus on, analyze, and criticize the news as it is reported by other news outlets. Can be confused with "Fact Checker" sites.

Source Evaluation

Provides information on how the sources in this guide were evaluated and included.

Ask Questions!

A page to help you locate and procure the assistance of a librarian, should you need it.

 

Read Closely...

Words in a German manuscript, enlarged by a magnifying glass.

Uploaded to Morguefile.Com by user pschubert. For more information on permissions and sharing, visit Morguefile.com.

 

Scope vs. Bias

It is important to be able to distinguish bias from scope.

You can think of the scope of a text as being the domain of all the things that the text talks about. For example: pretend that you're building a kitchen sink, and you've consulted a book on plumbing. That book can help you fit and place the pipes, hook them up to the water main, get the faucets working, and so on. That book would not tell you how to build the cabinet in which the sink rests. You might find that information in a book about carpentry, or woodworking, etc. Building the sink cabinet is outside the scope of a book on plumbing.

Bias is different. It's analogous to point-of-view: if you ever feel, while reading a piece of writing, that the author is invested in trying to get you to react, or think, or feel in a certain way, then the text is probably biased. Here's another example: if the same plumbing book in the example above tells you that the Krzevski Method* of pipe-laying is the most reliable and effective method of pipe-laying, then that is a bias. Whether it's correct or incorrect isn't the point; the point is that the text is trying to make you think that it's correct.

Remember: scope tells you what the text is (and is not) about, and bias tells you how the text "wants" you to interact with it. Bias isn't necessarily bad, but we do need to handle it with care.

*Not a real method of laying pipes. (I don't think.)

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