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Fake news or real? or how to become media savvy: Liberal or conservative or clickbait or worse?

Your guide to learning how to find credible sources about governmental and political issues.

We're increasingly aware of how important our consumption of media is to our perception of politics and public policy. From recent elections to the coronavirus vaccine, misinformation is rampant across many social media platforms.

This guide provides you with a variety of information resources to help you intelligently decide what news is legitimate and what is fake, clickbait or just misleading.




What is fake news?

Fake news is not news you disagree with.

"Fake news" is "fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent. Fake-news outlets, in turn, lack the news media's editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information. Fake news overlaps with other information disorders, such as misinformation (false or misleading information) and disinformation (false information that is purposely spread to deceive people)." [David M. J. Lazer, et al., "The Science of Fake News," Science 09 Mar 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1094-1096.].

How to spot red flags


What is public policy? OR what are we reading about anyway?

A public policy is simply what government (any public official who influences or determines public policy, including school officials, city council members, county supervisors, etc.) does or does not do about a problem that comes before them for consideration and possible action.

Specifically, public policy has a number of key attributes:

  • Policy is made in response to some sort of issue or problem that requires attention. Policy is what the government chooses to do (actual) or not do (implied) about a particular issue or problem.

  • Policy might take the form of law, or regulation, or the set of all the laws and regulations that govern a particular issue or problem.

  • Policy is made on behalf of the "public."

  • Policy is oriented toward a goal or desired state, such as the solution of a problem.

  • Policy is ultimately made by governments, even if the ideas come from outside government or through the interaction of government and the public.

  • Policymaking is part of an ongoing process that does not always have a clear beginning or end, since decisions about who will benefit from policies and who will bear any burden resulting from the policy are continually reassessed, revisited and revised.

No doubt, there are many problems in our communities that need to be solved. Some problems may readily be dealt with by actions taken in the private sphere (individuals and families) or by our civil society (social, economic, or political associations or organizations).

Public policy problems are those that must be addressed by laws and regulations adopted by government. 

Note: From Project Citizen ( This material is adapted from An Introduction to the Policy Process, by Thomas A. Birkland (2011, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY)