Fake news – What is the real deal?

Fake news is the Word of the year for 2017, according to Collins Dictionary.

Facebook knows fake news is a real issue so how do we know what is going on? Can we trust the news media? Is the newspaper, if you still read it, worth the paper it is printed on? Can you trust Facebook not to be feeding you fake news to your profile?

If you turn to social media, you soon discover hoaxes spread virally across every platform. So where do you go for reliable news, and how do you know what you are reading is real? Who is telling the truth out there?

Time for the Truthiness Test

Is it up to date? Has it been verified?

If it has just happened, there may not have been time to verify events as they occur. Check at intervals throughout the day to see if further reports clarify the situation and read other news sources to see how they are interpreting events. Try if possible to get first person reports from people on the ground rather than sources from half a world away where the events may be misinterpreted. Some news agencies will republish or rehash old news that may not be relevant to the current situation until they can get the full story. If it was posted or published a while ago does it still stand up and add to the overall picture.

Who wrote it and why?

Every story is written with a different readership in mind. Why was this story written and for whom? Do they want to entertain or to sell you something? Is it free of bias? What does the contact us information on the website tell you about the organisation that published it and what they stand for? Does the website tell you about their writers? Are they qualified to comment? Try googling the author to see what else they have published. Is the story written in a way that is trying to sway you to their point of view? How do your own beliefs affect the way you read the article and how you interpret it.

Have you checked it?

Take a look at some other news sources to check if they have a different interpretation of events. Does the URL tell you anything about the source of the information? Is it from a trusted organisation government source or educational institution? Do they have links to supporting sources or does it look like speculation? If they do have links, check them out to see where they got their information from. If they don’t state their sources they may be being paid to spread this information. Is the story overstating the facts or using outrageous headlines to get you reading it? Is it a joke? Although sometimes truth is stranger than fiction it might be a satire or a joke, so take a look at the About us section of the website to be sure.

Try putting it through a fact checking website like Snopes or FactCheck.org

Try putting it through the CRAAP test and see how it measures up. Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose (see this PDF handout from California University).

Don’t trust me, check out IFLA for their on How to Spot Fake News and a great printable infographic to remind you.

How to spot fake news, IFLA infographic
How to spot fake news, IFLA infographic CC BY 4.0

Finally, read critically and impartially. Does the news ring true?

More about fake news and critical thinking


Learning to love fiction

Search catalogueWhat is not to love about fiction…I am hoping to hear you ask…?

Horrifingly, several times in my library career I’ve been utterly dumbfounded to hear customers say they don’t read novels. What?!!! After several breathless squeaks  followed by a bout of dismayed spluttering, I’ve asked why ever not?

The puzzling reply has always been that they read for knowledge, want real facts and don’t have time to waste on make-believe or fantasy (I feel a panic attack coming on just writing these horrid words).

Search catalogueGoodness me, do real facts even exist? There has to be some room for doubt given all we’ve heard about fabricated memoirs ( Yeah, you James Frey), optimistically embellished science and medical research (Ben Goldacre) and if we accept history is written by the victors, the whole truth schtick is looking a bit shaky.

I am on a mission to convert non-fiction readers to fiction.  Throw away your computer manuals, biff  interpretative history and say adiós to self-help bibles, but I need you, our faithful blog readers, to provide the compelling and irrefutable reasons for why fiction does matter.

To get you started here is my 10 cents worth:

  • Novels are steeped in human truths, often with immaculately researched and detailed plots embedded in real events.
  • Good novelists provide the creative spark which can allow fact to take flight, taking readers into the interior lives of both real and imagined people.
  • And finally, isn’t it healthy to walk in other people’s shoes ( Jimmy Choos and Hush Puppies) and attempt to see life through other people’s eyes, or from another perspective?

Fiction lovers bring it on … why should we all read fiction?

More: Why I still love reading fiction Roberta

From Skype to origami – People do amazing things at the library

People do amazing things inside (and outside) the library.

I was talking to a customer at my library yesterday, and he said, “Goodness, look at all those computers! Aren’t libraries supposed to be all about books? What are those people doing here?” Turned out he hadn’t visited a library for a few years, so we chatted for a bit about the changing nature of life, the universe and everything.

After he’d gone, I went for a walk around the shelves, and found all sorts of things going on this customer might raise his eyebrows at. Our libraries today are full of people not just practicing silent reading, but Skyping, typing, playing online games, writing CVs, learning languages, listening to music, watching movies, doing origami, playing chess, knitting, drinking coffee and just hanging out with friends. We have art displays, writer events, and great competitions (The Summertime Reading Club for kids has a photo comp and a colouring comp too). Information is passed along, not just via words on paper, but through e-learning, interactive classes, displays, events, websites, and more.

Not only that, but libraries are hitting the street (and the interwebs). Our new mobile vans are wherever you are in the city, we have e-books and audio books that you can take with you to the ends of the earth, and you can drop into any library and get help with all your informationy needs. Librarians go out to schools, playgroups and community events.  Apparently we even channel our inner librarian on the street – I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked for information/directions/explanations, and I know that it happens to other librarians too. Is it the glasses? Or do we just look like we know everything?

Whatever naysayers might think they know about libraries, let’s keep proving them wrong – let’s keep our buildings full of people doing all sorts of glorious and amazing things, through the 21st century and beyond.

PS.  If you’re interested in finding out about all the things happening in and around libraries, start here with our Events Calendar, and remember to also keep an eye on the website and the blog, check out posters and displays in the library, or even easier – ask your librarian!

Need help? Visit a recovery assistance centre

Story time at the welfare centreRecovery assitance and welfare centers are now open all across the city. If you or anyone you know is in need of help or assistance,  please pass this information on to them, or help them get to the closest centre.

The centres provide face-to-face service and are a ‘one-stop shop’ of  government, local government and non-government organisations including Work and Income, Housing NZ, Christchurch City Council, Red Cross and quake and counselling support services.

The centres will be open 8.30am – 5pm weekdays and 9am – 4pm weekends at:

  • Linwood Community Link, 154 Aldwins Road, Linwood
  • Wainoni Aranui Family Centre, 31 Hampshire Street, Wainoni
  • Parklands Baptist Church, 180 Queenspark Drive, Parklands
  • St Faiths Hall, 46 Hawke Street, New Brighton
  • Nga Hau e Wha Marae, 250 Pages Road, Aranui
  • Shirley Rugby Club, 25 New Brighton Road, Shirley/Dallington
  • Sydenham Community Centre, 23-25 Hutcheson Street, Sydenham
  • Lyttelton Recreation Centre, 25 Winchester Street, Lyttelton
  • Mount Pleasant Yacht Club, Main Rd, Mount Pleasant (by Ferrymead bridge)
  • Old Boys Collegian Cricket Pavillion, Hagley Oval, South Hagley Park

Source: http://canterburyearthquake.org.nz/welfare-centres/