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‘Fake news’ got you wondering where to turn?

Staff reports • Jan 9, 2018 at 10:45 PM

If buzz about the movie "The Post" — which focuses on the newspaper's fight to publish the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s — has you thinking about how professional journalists do their jobs, below are a few tidbits from the national Society of Professional Journalists, which has existed for more than a century.

And if "fake news" concerns you, further down you'll find some information about a new free program for students from the Newseum, a nonprofit located in Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue not far from the White House.

• Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity. The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media:

— Seek Truth and Report It. (Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.)

— Minimize Harm. (Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.)

— Act Independently. (The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.)

— Be Accountable and Transparent. (Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.)

• In November, the Newseum and the American Association of University Women launched a new set of online resources to "provide timely guidance on identifying and avoiding junk news."

— According to its website, the Newseum's mission is "to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. Visitors experience the story of news, the role of a free press in major events in history, and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — apply to their lives.

— The Media Literacy Booster Pack, which is available for free on NewseumED, "helps students navigate today’s complex media landscape," according to a news release from the organization. It goes on to state resources — including infographics, videos, historical sources and activities — "offer students and teachers the tools to understand how news is made and how they can take a more active role in the information cycle."

— The Booster Pack's eight overreaching topics: evaluating information; filtering out fake news; separating facts and opinions; recognizing bias; detecting propaganda; uncovering how news is made; spotting errors in the news; and taking charge of your role as a media consumer and contributor.

— "As junk news continues to infiltrate the newsfeeds of millions of social media users, education and awareness have become the best line of defense against the spread of misinformation and disinformation," the news release states.

Sources: www.spj.org, www.newseum.org.

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