how can i reflect

on my bias when investigating

civic issues?

Activity #1: Analyzing News Headlines

(15 min)


In addition to concerns about the credibility of online information, there are also related concerns about the accuracy of information. In the digital age, we have seen a rise in misinformation and “fake news” due to a range of factors including the lack of vetting of online information, the ease with which information can be circulated, and the growing numbers of people who get their news from social media. Another important factor is the increase of partisanship that can bias our judgment about the credibility and accuracy of civic and political information online. Having strongly held partisan beliefs can lead you to be less critical of political claims that match up with your own perspective -- whether they are conservative or liberal. In other words, if something aligns with your overall beliefs, then you are more likely to believe it whether it’s true or not.

To engage your students in thinking about this issue you can ask them to work in pairs or in small groups to analyze the following published headlines. Students can just analyze the headlines and source website listing. Ask students to talk with each other about whether they believe these are real or fake news stories. Why or why not?


Fireman Suspended & Jailed By Atheist Mayor For Praying At Scene Of Fire

Posted on ABCNEWS.COM.CO, November 10, 2016


Obama Signs Executive Order Banning The National Anthem At All Sporting Events Nationwide

Posted on CNN.COM.DE, January 9, 2017


Octopus in the Parking Garage is Climate Change’s Canary in the Coal Mine

Posted on MIAMIHERALD.COM, November 18, 2016


Oregon will Pay Reparations to Individuals Formerly Convicted of Marijuana Related Crimes

Posted on CIVICTRIBUNE.COM, November 14, 2016


[Note for Teachers: The first two articles and the last one are

fake and no longer available online. The third article from the

Miami Herald is a real news story and is still available here.]


Ask students to share out whether they thought the stories were real or fake and their reasoning behind those judgments. You can use some or all of the following questions to guide discussion:

  • Which articles do you think were fake and why?

  • What did you think about to help you judge whether or not they were fake?

  • What previous knowledge do you have that helped you determine whether the news story was real or fake?

  • (If students had access to the Internet during this activity) What steps did you take to check the credibility of the news story?

  • If you had more time, what more would you do?

  • Do you think your previous opinions on these issues may have impacted your judgment? Why or why not?


If you would like to find more fake news examples and an analysis of those stories, you can visit or

An online alternative or in addition to the above headlines activity, you can ask students to take the following online interactive quiz called Don’t Get Faked. Students can take the quiz on their own or in pairs. Here is more information about the tool from Youth Radio:

“Did you hear the one about how there’s a platoon of Super Soldiers ready to steal the Golden Gate Bridge? Or how iPhones are all connected to Mark Zuckerberg’s personal laptop? Don’t worry, you will! Because the internet has no shortage of fake news. For instance: we just learned from The New York Times that 126 million people saw posts on Facebook that originated from Russian-backed accounts “intending to sow discord among American citizens.” That’s some legit news about fake news: and you can bet that more is on the way.

Facebook and other social media sites let anyone become their own news network. But not everyone can separate fact from fiction. And that can have dire consequences — not just for your news knowledge, but for our democracy.

That’s why Youth Radio built Don’t Get Faked — the latest tool from our Youth Radio Interactive coders. This quick quiz will test your B.S. detection skills and show you if you’ve got a nose for fake news. And it has a bunch of resources to help you become an even sharper news sleuth.

So take the quiz, face off with your friends, and help make the internet a safer place for the truth.”