How to tell news from advertising, publicity and more

October 13, 2016

Sorting through a daily flood of information to find news can present quite a challenge. Information can appear in print, on a website, in an audio or video package or on social media. Investigative reports, entertainment, propaganda and advertising can be presented in feature-length films.

Here are some ways to put information into meaningful categories that will help you make sense of what you read, watch and hear.

  • News: Information gathered by journalists that can be verified by reliable, authoritative and independent sources.
  • Propaganda: Information generated by government or political movements using manipulation and deception in order to garner support or trigger action.
  • Advertising: Information generated by advertising agencies to sell products and services.
  • Publicity: Information distributed by public relations companies to enhance the image of an individual or company.
  • Entertainment: Information intended to create alternative realities, amuse and generate revenue.
  • Raw information: Information distributed from one party to another without editorial filters or verification.

Taken from News Literacy Primer: How to Evaluate Information, a self-directed course by Pam Hogle at Poynter NewsU.

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