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COMM 130: News Literacy

A guide for sources useful for students in COMM 130 and anyone interested in news literacy.

Important Things to Understand about News

The best way to detect if a news story sounds fishy is by staying current with the news from reliable journalistic sources.

Reading a reliable newspaper everyday, with stories curated by news editors, is a better way to stay aware of the major stories happening around the world than just trusting social media algorithms to get it right. And if you are a regular reader of major news stories, you will be less likely to fall for a false narrative than a person who has no knowledge of the current situation there.

Evaluating news stories is significantly more difficult in a vacuum when you have no prior knowledge of what is going on.

As Penn State students, you have no-cost access to both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal online. Instructions for setting up your accounts with them can be found on the Student News Readership Program page. This is an incredible service that you should utilize while you have access to it.

Not all free news is sketchy, but all sketchy news is free. 

No one likes to have to pay for internet services, but the unfortunate reality is that quality journalism costs money. Sending professional journalists around the world to ask the tough questions of local leaders and report the news might be expensive, but will yield far better results than a person publishing a story based on information they Googled from their kitchen table. And since media that intentionally seeks to distort the truth does so by going viral and being shared widely, you'll rarely ever see paywalls blocking it. 

Libraries are here to help!

Penn State's University Libraries offers many resources for accessing quality journalism. But even after your Penn State careers are over, you can still rely on local public libraries to offer online resources for news and information. For example, the State Library of Pennsylvania offers Power Library for all Pennsylvania residents (all you need is a library card from your local library). Additionally, the Free Library of Philadelphia offers online accounts to all Pennsylvania residents that you can apply for here.