QUESTION: Prejudices

question / pregunta: 

I went to school with Jahar and knew him pretty well. After what happened my friends and I really do not know what to think, but after watching hours of media coverage of this whole event I realized that the media cannot be trusted so easily with the info they give. It is hard not to trust the media because it is everywhere, but how can one go on about knowing facts while at the same time not fully trusting the media where they come from? how would the media be able to do differently?


Evaluating information, and sharing the skills required to effectively do so as we become more and more media-saturated, is an ongoing topic of concern for both the the library profession in general and Radical Reference in particular.

Fact checking workshops have been a mainstay of Radical Reference's practice sine the group's inception. You can see a set of slides for download from 2006 here: and a more extensive set of materials from 2008 here:, and some follow-up notes from a 2010 presentation here:

Within the field of library instruction, information evaluation skills are often discussed under the term "information literacy." Many library schools have resource pages on the subject, as you can see with an internet search for the term (limited to "" to only get things from that domain.) A good introduction can be found on the Association of College & Research Libraries site, here:

You may also find interesting, especially perhaps on the question of how the media could do better, is the April 19, 2013 On The Media program devoted to the coverage. More questions than answers, perhaps.

Hopefully other Radical Reference members will chime in with their favorite resources on these important questions.

I wanted to add some sources to the terrific suggestions above. These are mostly links to web pages that talk about issues of objectivity in the mainstream press, but also some books that might help think through some of these issues.

-Unspun is written by the people who run, which is a really great resource for fact checking political information. You might monitor this site for information related to what happened in Boston, as well as wider discussions about security, immigration and "terrorism."

-Here's a very current critique of objectivity in the media.

-This blog post is structured as a Q and A, and it's intended to clarify how objectivity is used by the press as a concept that shields them from accusations of bias:

This one gets at some of the underlying tensions related to bias and the blogger as the ideal "other" for journalists:

Lance W. Bennett has also written some books which might be helpful, especially around the use of official sources in the press.