Searching for balanced election news? Ask a librarian.

Student studying on his laptop in Fondren Library Center, SMU

Trying to determine if that news or social media story you are reading is biased? Check your emotional response, says SMU Information Literacy Librarian Megan Heuer.

“A strong emotional response to a news story, positive or negative, is a sign that a story may need verification,” she says. Heuer regularly shares tips like this in her free public workshops on the SMU campus, “Finding Balanced News in a Biased World.”

For librarians, helping students and patrons understand how to evaluate sources of information has long been a key part of their mission. Their code of ethics supports intellectual freedom.

“Our personal beliefs do not impact the resources we collect or recommend” Heuer says. “Instead, professional librarians teach students and library patrons to develop information literacy – the ability to find and evaluate information, to understand how and why it is produced and to use it ethically.”

HEUER’S PRACTICAL TIPS FOR EVALUATING NEWS

Use fact-checking sites: When in doubt, verify stories on these sites – Snopes, FactCheck.org, Politifact, Hoax-Slayer, Truth or Fiction.

Conduct lateral searching instead of vertical searching: Scan a website, then open additional websites on the same topic seeking context and perspective. Don’t limit search to in-depth vertical analysis of one website.

Check age of domain: Use WHOIS to see when the web domain for the story was created. Be wary if the domain is brand new. It may have been created to host biased news.

Conduct a reverse image search: Use Google Images to see how an image has been used in the past and to confirm if the image originated with the story.

Beware of misleading media: Question selective sourcing, opinion-writing and advertising that masquerade as news, as well as quick-fix science news.

Recognize good reporting: Good reporting is ethical, represents multiple viewpoints, identifies sources and uses commonly accepted sources and authorities.

Is your news source biased? Several nonprofit organizations evaluate news bias and fact check news stories. To evaluate a news source or particular story, visit AllSides, Politifact, Factcheck or Media Bias/Fact Check.

— Nancy George

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“The Tail of the Lion: 100 Years of General Relativity, the Scientific Theory of Space and Time,” February 4, 2016

Steve SekulaListen to SMU Associate Professor of Physics Stephen Sekula as he commemorates one of the greatest scientific discoveries of modern times: Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

This lecture is part of SMU’s Godbey Lecture Series sponsored by the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute. For information on future events, visit the Godbey Lecture Series homepage.

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The Honorable S.M. Krishna: “India Now,” Oct. 3, 2012

S.M. KrishnaIndia’s Minister of External Affairs, S.M. Krishna, discussed “India Now” on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. The Carrington Endowed Lecture Series event was hosted by the University’s Dedman School of Law, from which Krishna received his law degree in 1959.

“Minister Krishna’s leadership and contributions have played a significant role in the development of India,” said John B. Attanasio, Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law and Judge William Hawley Atwell Chair of Constitutional Law in the SMU Dedman School of Law. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the community, our alumni and our students to have him back at the law school and hear him speak.”

Krishna oversees India’s government agency responsible for relationships with other countries, and his position is similar to that of U.S. secretary of state. Top members of the Ministry of External Affairs represent India at the United Nations.

Before he began his lecture, Minister Krishna received the law school’s Distinguished Global Alumni Award, presented by Attanasio.

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Luís Alberto Urrea: SMU’s “Migration Matters” series, Jan. 26, 2012

Luis Alberto Urrea at SMU, January 26, 2012, by Clayton T. Smith

Luís Alberto Urrea spoke in SMU's 2012 "Migration Matters" series Jan. 26. Photo by Clayton T. Smith, SMU

Luís Alberto Urrea – author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Queen of America and the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Devil’s Highway – returned to the Hilltop Jan. 26, 2012, to speak in “Migration Matters: An Interdisciplinary Program on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border.”  The series features artists, educators, faith leaders and law enforcement insiders – all sharing the latest information on border-related migration trends, crime, politics, humanitarian efforts, art and literature.

Urrea led off the series with a discussion of his border-related writing and reportage. “The border ran right through my living room” as a child, he told the crowd in SMU’s McCord Auditorium, speaking of his American mother and Mexican father (“who was the blond, blue-eyed one in the family,” he added).

The author came to campus in 2008 to discuss The Devil’s Highway – the true story of the Yuma 14 tragedy, and that year’s Common Reading for new SMU students. Most of the University students who read The Devil’s Highway for Common Reading are seniors this year.

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Related links:

More information on “Migration Matters” from SMU News
More about The Devil’s Highway as the 2008 SMU Common Reading
> SMU Forum: Author Luís Urrea talks about life and death on the border
Urrea on KERA Public Radio’s “Think” Jan. 23, 2012

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