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Information Interrogation (Wayne College): Why?

Why?

Why?

Why = Purpose

Determining purpose is perhaps the most challenging category to determine.

​Sticking to information out of more professional or scholarly sources will help.  

Discussion

Consider materials that are created to entertain, offer humor, or satire.  Websites like the Onion create authentic-appearing news stories that are meant to help us laugh at current events, society, and politics.  It's unfortunate when these materials are mistaken for truth.  

What is the role of news satire in our modern society?

How can you avoid being duped into believing satirical news is truth?

Information Interrogation: Why?

Ask yourself: Why was this information produced?

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Who is the audience for the information?
  • Is it free from bias or does it provide information from a variety of points of view?

General Considerations:

Think about all of the potential reasons information may have been produced:

  • Inform, explain, or teach?
  • Report research findings?
  • Persuade or present opinions?
  • Entertain?
  • Advertise or sell you something?
  • Deceive? (Humor, satire, fake news)

Can you look at the information or the source of the information and see a distinct audience for it?  

  • Audience can be based on age, gender, profession, political leanings, hobbies, etc.

How do you determine is something is biased?

Considerations based on format:

Books
  • Look at the cover, illustrations, and any special features to determine audience.
  • Does a review of the book reveal any potential bias?
Periodical Articles
  • Locate the website for the publication.
  • Who is the audience for the periodical? (age, level of education, specific profession, political affiliation, religion, special interests?)
  • Are there any illustrations or advertisements? What do they reveal about the publication?
  • Is the article a feature or part of a regular column? (For example, does the article appear as part of the "Comment" or "Opinion" column?)
Websites
  • Look at the domain: is it commercial, educational, or a non-profit organization?
  • Look at the graphics & illustrations (attractive to children?) and advertisements. What do they reveal about the publication?
  • If you can interpret HTML code: look at the source code for the site to look at author-supplied keywords (Ctrl+U)