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Fake News: Separating Fact From Fiction

Media bias chart activity


  1. Before the session starts, the instructor should have ready a simplified version of the blank chart that they can draw on large poster paper or a white board. You can also use PowerPoint slides (see link above).
  2. Distribute one or two media source logos (see link above) along with a copy of the blank Media Bias chart (see link above) to each student or team (If you draw a blank chart on poster paper, affix sticky tape to the back of each logo. If you draw a blank chart on a white board, affix a magnet to the back of each logo). 
  3. Instruct each student or team to search for and review their media websites to learn more about the news stories they report on. Students can also research what others have to say about the media source. Questions each student or team should consider when reviewing their media source: Does this media source lean more towards the left or right? Is it sensationalist/clickbait news or analytical/in-depth reporting of the news? Is it mainstream or fringe/conspiracy theory news?
  4. After students research their media sources and decide where their media source logos should be placed on the blank chart, instruct one student at a time to pin their media source logos on the poster paper or white board chart. If you are using the PowerPoint slides (see link above) instruct one student at a time to cut or copy then paste & move their media source logo on slide 2 or 3 to the appropriate place on the blank chart on slide 1. 
  5. After media source logos are placed on the chart, the instructor shows the original chart with sources created by Vanessa Otero

Questions to ask the class:

  • Do students agree or disagree with Vanessa Otero's placement of news sources on the latest version of the media chart ?
  • Does any student or team now want to change the placement of their media source logos on the chart?

Prompts for further discussion:

  • Why did you decide to place your media source logos where you did on the chart? What factors in your research influenced your choices?
  • Where do you think a scholarly or peer-reviewed journal might fit on this continuum?
  • This chart symmetrically balances left and right leaning media sources. Vanessa Otero chose an equal number of examples on each side of the political spectrum. Do you think fake news occurs in equal amounts on each side? Why or why not?
  • Does this change your opinion of your "go to" or favorite media sources? How will this change where you get your news in the future?
  • Why do you think some media sources trend towards sensationalism/ clickbait? What are the economic incentives?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Adapted from Pin the Source on the Spectrum: Fake News is on a Continuum, ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox.

Fake news games & quizzes