How to tell news from advertising, publicity and more

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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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.

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