Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Media Literacy: Home


Media literacy: The ability "to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, CREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication." It is an essential part of an engaged, informed and effective electorate (National Association for Media Literacy Education).

Disinformation: This term was originally used to refer to "false information created by governments in wartime for military purposes and by totalitarian governments for political purposes during peacetime" (Encyclopedia of Espionage). Now we use this term to refer to information (from any source) that is intentionally wrong and meant to mislead.

Fake news: This term, which used to refer to "people knowingly portraying false information as if it were true" has, in recent years, been weaponized by political agendas. It can now refer to anything from online hoaxes to journalism that portrays politicians in a negative light (News Literacy Project). In fact, information scientists such as Claire Wardle and Hossein Derakhshan now avoid the term altogether: "We refrain from using the term ‘fake news’, for two reasons. First, it is woefully inadequate to describe the complex phenomena of information pollution. The term has also begun to be appropriated by politicians around the world to describe news organisations whose coverage they find disagreeable. In this way, it’s becoming a mechanism by which the powerful can clamp down upon, restrict, undermine and circumvent the free press. We therefore introduce a new conceptual framework for examining information disorder, identifying the three different types: mis-, dis- and mal-information.(Information Disorder).

Misinformation: Whereas "disinformation" refers to information that is deliberately false, "misinformation" refers to information which may be unintentionally incorrect. However unintentional, misinformation can still lead people astray--sometimes with dangerous results (i.e. as with widespread misinformation about HIV and how it is transmitted) (Garner's Modern English Usage, 289).

News literacy: According to the News Literacy Project, "news literacy" is "the ability to determine the credibility of news and other content, to identify different types of information, and to use the standards of authoritative, fact-based journalism to determine what to trust, share and act on" (News Literacy Project).

Propaganda: "The systematic dissemination of information, esp. in a biased or misleading way, in order to promote a political cause or point of view" (Oxford English Dictionary).

Sponsored content: Also known as "native advertising," sponsored content "resembles a news article but is paid for by someone trying to sell something." Because it is designed to look like news, "people can be fooled into thinking that what they're reading is straight reporting"  (News Literacy Project).

SWIC Librarian

Samantha Rogers's picture
Samantha Rogers
Research Center
Belleville Campus Library
IS Building, First Floor
(618) 222-5236

SWIC Librarian

Jennifer Bone's picture
Jennifer Bone
Research Center
Belleville Campus Library
IS Building, 1st Floor
(618) 222-5597

SWIC Librarian

Mark Light's picture
Mark Light
Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, Room 455
(618) 931-0600, ext. 7353


Click each image for a larger view.

Infographics source:

An excellent, short video rich with strategies from

Fact Checking Sites

Open Secrets tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. It allows you to easily track campaign spending and contributions without laboring through the Federal Election Commission's website. Open Secrets also tracks the money that the private sector, industry groups, unions, and other lobbyists spend to lobby Congress.

The Sunlight Foundation is a nonprofit that lead the way for public accountability data journalism. Its Hall of Justice offers state-by-state data sets on criminal justice.

Links and their descriptions are from The Daily Dot's "The 2016 Guide to Political Fact-Checking on the Internet" by Amrita Khalid.  First Published: Sep 21, 2016, Updated Apr 14, 2020 for relevance.