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Evaluating Sources: Dive Deeper: Information and Media Literacy

Being able to evaluate sources and detect fake news are two approaches to developing information and media literacy. To become fully literate users of information, we must also learn to incorporate information from other sources into our work and create reliable and effective information resources to share with others. How can we make sure that we're doing those things with integrity? This is the question that we begin to ask as we move toward improving our information and media literacy.

Information and media literacy involves the development of several overlapping skills:

  • Approaching media with a critical eye 
  • Learning to find accurate and reliable information
  • Determining the best ways to refute misinformation 
  • Sharing information skillfully and honestly (see our guide on citing sources)
  • Creating reliable information

Below are resources that can help you embark on your information and media literacy journey: books that you can access online or check out from the LACC MLK Library, infographics, fake news self-assessments, and useful links, all designed to foster better discernment of misleading and false information in our fast-paced and ever-changing media ecosystems. 

LACC Library also offers a host of tutorials on information literacy, found here, in our Information Competency LibGuide. As always, if you need help with any of these resources or with finding more information, ask a librarian. 

eBooks About Information and Media Literacy in the MLK Library Collection

Print Books About Information and Media Literacy in the MLK Library Collection

Information and Media Literacy Resources and Organizations

Definitions of Information and Media Literacy 

Adams and Hamm (2001) say that ‘‘media literacy may be thought of as the ability to create personal meaning from the visual and verbal symbols we take in every day from television, advertising, film, and digital media. It is more than inviting students to simply decode information. They must be critical thinkers who can understand and produce in the media culture swirling around them’’ (p. 33).


Hobbs (2001): ‘‘Literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a variety of forms’’ (p. 7). Hobbs says this definition suggests the following characteristics: inquiry based education, student-centered learning, problem solving in cooperative teams, alternatives to standardized testing, and integrated curriculum.


Siverblatt and Eliceiri (1997) in their Dictionary of Media Literacy define media literacy as ‘‘a critical-thinking skill that enables audiences to decipher the information that they receive through the channels of mass communications and empowers them to develop independent judgments about media content’’ (p. 48).


Center for Media Literacy: ‘‘Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.’’


Media Education Foundation: The tools and vocabulary needed to re-examine media images and their influence on how we think about our personal, political, economic and cultural worlds. 


Source: Potter, J. (2010). The state of media literacy. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 54(4), 2010, pp. 675–696.
DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2011.521462

Analyzing Media: Anatomy of a Misleading Facebook Post

Much of the information we consume and share comes to us in bite-sized pieces on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Often, these easily-digestible messages and posts can mislead. While a post may conform to a point of view that we share, it is still incumbent upon us to verify the information and determine whether the conclusions it draws are valid. Examine the post below to see how social media posts can promote distorted perspectives and to find out how to counter this problem. Then, compare this post with an actual story about the same topic, published in the New York Times.

Anatomy of a misleading Facebook post

Anatomy of a Misleading Facebook Post

Investigate the source of the post.

When evaluating claims about the news on social media, it’s important to determine the bias of the source. In this case, Turning Point USA is “a staunch supporter of President Trump” (

Verify the information in the headline.

Normally, news stories include both headlines and reports, which allow readers to evaluate whether the headline is accurate. In this case, there is no report to accompany the post, so we must verify the information using others sources. According to…

  • The Mueller investigation did take over two years to complete. The total cost as of September 30, 2018, was $25.2 million. However, the Mueller Report did come to several conclusions:
  • The Russians coordinated a sustained cyberattack to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, through both a social media campaign and the hacking of computers tied to the Clinton campaign.
  • There was no evidence of any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians to enact this interference.
  • The investigation uncovered “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”

Based on this assessment, we can determine that Turning Point USA has distorted the facts.

Snapshot of a news story from the New York Times

Note the differences between the Facebook post and the same topic covered in a reputable newspaper.

The headline draws a conclusion, but it is less extreme than the one drawn in the Facebook post.

The authors ore noted in the byline, allowing readers to explore their work further.

There is a story that accompanies the headline, giving readers a chance to verify whether it supports the claim of the headline.

The story contains facts, which readers can then verify using other sources.

UNESCO Five Laws of Information and Media Literacy

UNESCO Five Laws of Information and Media Literacy

Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy

We are travelling towards the universality of books, the Internet and all forms of “containers of knowledge”. Media and information literacy for all should be seen as a nexus of human rights. Therefore, UNESCO suggests the following Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy.

They are inspired by the Five Laws of Library Science proposed by S. R. Ranganathan in 1931. The Five Laws of MIL are intended as guides, together with other UNESCO resources, for all stakeholders involved in the application of MIL in all forms of development.

For more context to the Five Laws of MIL, please see related chapter in the MIL Yearbook 2016 published by UNESCO, Media and Information Literacy: Reinforcing Human Rights, Countering Radicalization and Extremism.

Law One: Information, communication, libraries, media, technology, the Internet as well as other forms of information providers are for use in critical civic engagement and sustainable development. They are equal in stature and none is more relevant than the other or should be ever treated as such.

Law TwoEvery citizen is a creator of information/knowledge and has a message. They must be empowered to access new information/knowledge and to express themselves. MIL is for all – women and men equally – and a nexus of human rights.

Law ThreeInformation, knowledge, and messages are not always value neutral, or always independent of biases. Any conceptualization, use and application of MIL should make this truth transparent and understandable to all citizens.

Law FourEvery citizen wants to know and understand new information, knowledge and messages as well as to communicate, even if she/he is not aware, admits or expresses that he/she does. Her/his rights must however never be compromised.

Law FiveMedia and information literacy is not acquired at once. It is a lived and dynamic experience and process. It is complete when it includes knowledge, skills and attitudes, when it covers access, evaluation/assessment, use, production and communication of information, media and technology content.

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