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Friend, Enemy, or Frenemy? The News Literacy Challenge

Welcome to Day 4 of the News Literacy Challenge!

As we learned yesterday, news outlets create content for a particular audience, and the messages in that content reflect the values of the people and organizations that produce the news. These messages can be interpreted differently by different viewers/listeners/readers, in large part because we as news consumers come to the news we encounter with our own subjective experiences and assumptions.

Moreover, we have a lot of information coming at us all of the time. Our brains have a tendency to process that information as quickly as possible, which is why we sometimes use shortcuts, like cognitive biases, to make sense of it all. The combination of news messaging by news outlets, our own subjectivity and points of view, and the cognitive biases we hold contribute to how we experience and respond to the news.

Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias that refers to our tendency to accept, and even value, information that matches what we already believe (or dismiss information that contradicts what we already believe). And, we all have this tendency, regardless of our political beliefs or education level. In order to address cognitive bias, we must first recognize what it looks like. Learn more about confirmation bias from the News Literacy Project.

Your Challenge: Determine the Types of Bias Present in Two News Stories on the Same Topic

1. Look at these two headlines from 2019 (and feel free to click through to the stories themselves).

2. Answer the following questions in the comment board.

  • Why are these two headlines so different if they're on the same topic?
  • How does your own confirmation bias affect your reading of these headlines?


The discussion board is now closed (The News Literacy Challenge took place October 26-30, 2020). However, we encourage you to scroll through the responses and reflect on your own answers to the questions below!

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Further Questions to Consider

  • When can a point of view in the news be helpful?
  • When can a point of view in the news be harmful?

Further Learning

Nice job completing Day 4! We'll see you tomorrow for the grand finale.

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