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Central High School Library Home Page: Fact vs. Fiction

Media Literacy

Quiz: Should you share it?

Can we trust the news? Conversation starters

Can we trust the news? Conversation starters.

  1. Can reliable sources show bias? What responsibilities do journalists have to be fair and accurate in their reporting? 
  2. Whose voices need to be heard? 
  3. Who in power should be held accountable for inaccurate or misleading information? 

It seems like any news report shared on Twitter or YouTube is inundated with "fake news" claims: comments calling out something for being "liberal propaganda" or "paid for by Russia." Most often these claims are just a way of dismissing facts or analysis that someone disagrees with.

The thing is, there are bigger, more harmful examples of bias and bad reportage. These rare but educational incidents get lost in the flurry of baseless "fake news" accusations. Case in point: Mark I. Pinsky at Poynter issued a powerful report on the shameful role Southern newspapers like the Orlando Sentinel and the Montgomery Advertiser played in normalizing and covering up injustice, racism, and violence against Black people in the decades following the Civil War, through the civil rights movement, and continuing today. Here we have an actual, high-stakes example of the news getting something wrong. It's important for students to examine cases like this -- and the political contexts surrounding them -- to build a more informed understanding of "fake news."

Read about a newspaper's shameful and racist past and consider what factors might influence how the news is covered today. 

Montgomery Advertiser's apology for its coverage of lynchings. The newspaper was edited by a Confederate veteran who had a position of power and a vested interest in minimizing the damage of lynchings and blaming victims.

And then read the Poynter report below to learn more.



The Seven Standards of Quality Journalism

Source: The News Literacy Project

Lateral Reading

How can I fact-check on my own?

How can you fact-check what you're reading? Use these tools below!



The MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network (TFCN) publishes daily fact-checks for teenagers, by teenagers. The program is a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles.

In 2020, the TFCN is focused on fact-checking social media content related to the novel coronavirus. Our team of teen fact-checkers — reporting from more than a dozen states in the U.S. — has published more than 50 fact-checks related to COVID-19 as of May 7.

TFCN fact-checks are unique in that they both debunk misinformation and teach the audience media literacy skills so they can fact-check on their own. On average, 86% of respondents polled on the MediaWise Instagram account recently reported they were more likely to fact-check on their own after watching a TFCN fact-check story.

Follow @MediaWise on TwitterInstagramTikTokFacebook and YouTube to see new fact-checks posted daily and learn how you can apply to be part of this program.


Source: CommonSense Media (sign in with Clever) 



Conversation Starters about News Diets--Where Do You Get Your News?

Conversation starters about our news diets:

  1. Who or what influences where we get our news?  
  2. In what ways does access to technology make us more or less informed? 
  3. How does where and how we get our news impact our understanding of the world?

Begin by clicking on the link below to take a survey about your news diet. 


Click on the link below to see how other teens answered the same questions. 


Use the source below to discover how news diets differ among age, race, place, and how they change with as technology changes. 

“Many Americans Get News on YouTube, Where News Organizations and Independent Producers Thrive Side by Side” (Pew Research Center).
A revealing new study from the Pew Research Center drives home just how central YouTube has become in many Americans’ news diets. About a quarter of U.S. adults turn to the video-sharing platform for news, but only about half of the news channels on YouTube are associated with established news organizations. According to the study, independent channels — or those without a clear affiliation with an organization — post much of the remaining news content. These channels are often personality-driven and more likely to cover conspiracy theories or approach subjects with a negative tone.

How do our biases shape how we read and understand the news? What is implicit bias? How can we uncover our own biases?

What is implicit bias?

Implicit bias is about embedded (but often invisible) ways of thinking that influence the way we interact with others. Prof. Dolly Chugh suggests that this "fog" of cloaked associations comes from sources such as media, news, conversations we hear at home, and our education.

NYT/POV's Saleem Reshamwala unscrews the lid on the unfair effects of our subconscious in this video below.

We all have implicit biases, but how do we recognize them?

Click below to take an Implicit Association Test.

OR Click on the All-Sides link to examine your biases. 


Does this visual help you understand biases even better?


Watch this video about getting unstuck.

Americans are stuck in social media news bubbles that block exposure to opposing points of view. Here you'll get concrete advice from leading media experts on how to break free and get fully informed. Narrated by Glynn Washington.


What is a news bubble?

Social Media: Is Your Breaking News Broken? 

  1. What is a news bubble? 
  2. We have access to fact-checking data at our fingertips, why might news bubbles exist?  
  3. How does news selection amplify one’s political views? What can we do about it?
  4. Do we have an obligation as citizens to move beyond our news bubbles?


The internet and social media give us tools to find out what’s happening almost instantly – sometimes even in real time. But how much can we trust the breaking news we see online? In this video, hear from two experts on the topic -- Renee DiResta and David Barstow -- as they break down some of the ins and outs of how we interpret the breaking news we see online.

Watch this video about getting unstuck.

Americans are stuck in social media news bubbles that block exposure to opposing points of view. Here you'll get concrete advice from leading media experts on how to break free and get fully informed. Narrated by Glynn Washington.


TED Playlist: How to Pop Our Filter Bubbles 

And how can we decode bias in the media?

Conversation starters about Media Bias

  1. Where do people in the US get their news?
  2. How do media organizations decide to cover stories? 
  4. But how much can we trust the breaking news we see online?


The internet and social media give us tools to find out what’s happening almost instantly – sometimes even in real time. But how much can we trust the breaking news we see online? In this video, hear from two experts on the topic -- Renee DiResta and David Barstow -- as they break

How does news selection amplify one’s political views? What can we do about it?



Viral Rumors Rundown


Viral Rumor Rundown September 28, 2021

Video of protest in Romania is from 2017, unrelated to vaccines

A Twitter post that includes a video showing television footage of a large crowd protesting at night. The text in the tweet says, “This is absolutely EPIC.. Romanian government has closed all vaccine centres because 70% of the citizens won’t get the jab. Coercion did not work. RESISTANCE.” The video has almost 900,000 views, and the tweet has been liked and retweeted thousands of times. The News Literacy Project has added a red X and caption that said “FOOTAGE OF 2017 PROTEST.”

NO: The video in this tweet does not show an anti-vaccine protest in Romania. YES: It shows footage from Televiziunea Română, a Romanian public television network, of anti-corruption protests in Bucharest, Romania, in February 2017.

NewsLit takeaway: Using aerial photos and videos of crowds out of context is a common tactic that trolls and other purveyors of disinformation use to exaggerate grassroots support for a cause or to create confusion.


Haitian migrants didn’t kneel wearing “Biden please let us in” t-shirts

A tweet with a photo of people kneeling and wearing matching t-shirts that say “Biden please let us in.” The text “So, y’all telling me Haitians went and purchased shirts that says… ‘Biden Please Let Us In’” appears above the photo. The News Literacy Project added an “Out of Context” label.

NO: The photo in this tweet does not show a group of Haitian migrants at the Texas-Mexico border wearing “Biden please let us in” t-shirts in September 2021. YES: It shows a group of migrants at a border crossing at Tijuana and San Diego wearing shirts with the same wording and was taken on March 2, 2021.

NewsLit takeaway: Controversial issues such as immigration commonly engender both disinformation (e.g., photos intentionally taken out of context) and misinformation (e.g., photos mistakenly or inadvertently shared out of context) — though it’s often difficult or impossible to know the motivations behind such posts. In addition to presenting a photo in a false context, this post also appears to imply that migrants were given these shirts as part of a political tactic to damage President Joe Biden. The same conspiratorial questions previously circulated in March.


Actor George Clooney didn’t wear this anti-MAGA t-shirt

A Facebook post of a photo of the actor George Clooney wearing a t-shirt that reads “Losers in 1865 [next to a Confederate flag], Losers in 1945 [next to a Nazi flag], Losers in 2020 [next to a red MAGA hat].” The News Literacy Project added a 'Doctored Image' label and an inlaid image of Clooney's authentic shirt, which has a tequila logo on it.

NO: The actor George Clooney did not wear a shirt that compared MAGA supporters to Confederates and Nazis, calling them all “losers.” YES: The authentic photo of Clooney — which was taken in September 2015, more than five years before the 2020 election — shows that the shirt actually featured a tequila logo. YES: Clooney has been publicly critical of former President Donald Trump in the past.

The original photo — taken on Sept. 8, 2015, in New York City by Getty Images photographer John Lamparski — shows that Clooney actually wore a t-shirt with the Casamigos tequila logo.

NewsLit takeaway: Printed messages, including those on t-shirts, are particularly easy to alter and should always be approached with skepticism — especially when they spark a strong emotion or confirm your biases. Also, it’s helpful to note that many of the provocative t-shirt designs that have been digitally added to celebrity photos can be found for sale online. In this case, not only is the “losers” anti-Trump shirt available for purchase, but one of the webpages features the product using a cropped version of the fake Clooney photo. The same product page features a “Keep America Trumpless” t-shirt that was recently added to a photo of the actor Chris Evans:


No, an anti-vax protester didn’t create a sign saying he knows more than “the scietists”

A man at a protest holding a cardboard sign with the words “I know more than the scietists” written in black marker. The word “scientists” is misspelled.

NO: This man is not an anti-vaccine protester. NO: The sign he is holding doesn’t contain a sincere message. YES: He is a counter-protester who created the sign — which includes “I demand my right to be ignarant [sic] & selfish” on the other side — to satirically oppose an anti-vaccine demonstration outside of a Toronto hospital on Sept. 13.

NewsLit takeaway: Satire is notoriously difficult to recognize online. In fact, as this fact-check about the “scietists” counter-protester points out, it’s an example of an internet axiom called Poe’s Law which holds that “a parody of something extreme can be mistaken for the real thing, and if a real thing sounds extreme enough, it can be mistaken for a parody.” Also, while this sign is authentic, it’s good to keep in mind that protest signs are easy targets for photo manipulation that misrepresents a group or cause.

Discuss: How is satire spread out of context online? How do trolls and purveyors of disinformation use disingenuous claims of satire as a tactic to deflect responsibility for what they post?


A 2015 Nobel Prize doesn’t mean ivermectin is effective to treat COVID-19

A screenshot of a Facebook post of a meme that says “IVERMECTIN If you just got finessed into calling the medicine that won the 2015 Nobel Prize for its role in treating human disease ‘horse de-wormer’, then you need to sit the next couple of plays out.” The News Literacy Project added a red X and a “LACKS CONTEXT” label.

NO: Ivermectin itself didn’t win a Nobel Prize in 2015. YES: Two researchers who in the late 1970s discovered that avermectin, a precursor to ivermectin, was effective in treating diseases caused by parasites, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015. NO: This is not evidence that ivermectin is effective in treating COVID-19. YES: Clinical trials for ivermectin are ongoing to evaluate its efficacy against COVID-19 after some small, observational studies suggested it might be. NO: Available data does not show that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19, and the FDA is urging people not to use it for this purpose.

NewsLit takeaway: It can be easy to get swept up in partisan rhetoric online and mistake something that feels substantive as evidence for an unrelated claim. Cut through the emotion and misleading hyperbole surrounding the debate over ivermectin by monitoring its progress through clinical trials, talking with your doctor and awaiting word from health authorities like the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Actor Chris Evans didn’t wear a “Keep America Trumpless” t-shirt

 A Facebook post praising the actor Chris Evans includes a photo of him with a gray t-shirt on that says “Keep America Trumpless” on the front. The News Literacy Project added a 'Doctored Image' label and an inlaid image of Evans' authentic shirt.

NO: The actor Chris Evans did not wear a shirt that says “Keep America Trumpless.” YES: This is a doctored photo with text on Evans’ shirt that was changed. YES: Fan accounts on Instagram and Twitter shared the authentic photo, which shows that the design on Evans’ t-shirt was actually the emblem from the Oregon state flag. YES: Evans has been publicly critical of former President Donald Trump in the past.

The original photo shows that Evans was wearing a “State of Oregon” shirt.

NewsLit takeaway: Printed messages, including those on t-shirts, are easy to doctor and should always be verified before being shared. As Dan Evon points out in his fact-check of this photo for Snopes, doctored t-shirt rumors featuring celebrities are common — and sometimes feature shirts for sale online, which underscores one possible motivation for their creation and circulation.

Discuss: Why might partisans and other people with ideological agendas want to put specific messages on celebrities’ shirts? Could this kind of misinformation be harmful? Why or why not?

The Sift from the News Literacy Project

More Teacher Resources


Introducing Lateral Reading before Research

We The Voters | PBS LearningMedia › collection › wethevoters

Before the 2016 Election, PBS Education partnered with We The Voters, a nonpartisan digital project featuring short films to activate voters across the country.

Games and Quizzes

The Spot-The-Troll quiz is an educational tool to help the public learn to spot the markers of inauthenticity in social media accounts. Can you spot a troll?

Source: The Clemson University Media Forensics Hub presents:

Take the quiz to test whether you can sort fact from fiction related to COVID-19 information. The World Health Organization called the deluge of information and misinformation about the pandemic an “infodemic’ for good reason.


The best way for you to help reduce misinformation online is to avoid sharing it. But can you tell the difference between social media posts that are false or misleading and those that are credible?

Source: The News Literacy Project  

The Bad News Game puts players in the position of the people who create manipulative news stories, and as such gain insight into the various tactics and methods used by ‘real’ fake news-mongers to spread their message.

Source:DROG (, 


Can you spot "fake news"? Try Factitious and find out! [Works on Firefox & Chrome only.]

Sources: JoLT &  The American University Game Lab


Create Your Own Clickbait Headlines

3 Resources about Comparing Perspectives in the News

GET TO KNOW WHAT THE OTHER SIDE THINKS A website designed to open your mind by showing you what you‘re missing in current eventshistoric conflicts and classic debates due to filter bubbles.

ALLSIDES allows users to see different political perspectives is the same news stories. Stories are labeled as left, center, or right of the political spectrum. 

GROUND NEWS allows users to see perspectives in news coverage based on political bias, time, and location. 


Conversation Starters: What is polarization and how does it affect the news?

  1. Why is the US so polarized? 
  2. How does polarization influence decision making? Can we find common ground? 
  3. Who benefits from polarization? How do you know?
  4. Are there polarized news narratives that events fit into?  

More Resources 

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).