Once upon a time, photos were real, people trusted the news and there was no such thing as “alternative facts.”

Today, technology has changed everything – and still is. Between Photoshop, apps that allow anyone to create Deepfake videos and the surge of biased websites posing as neutral news sources, everything you read, see or hear could be fake.

That’s why Peoria Public Library wants to provide our patrons with a field guide to spotting misleading information, as well as resources to help you and your family exercise your critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, buyer beware now applies to how we consume information in our daily lives.

On this page you’ll find fact-checking links, links to reputable news sources and suggested books and online resources for further study. Our staff of information professionals (aka librarians) are also available to help you track the truth.

Fact Checking Links

FactCheck.org

FactCheck.org
This nonpartisan nonprofit is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. FactCheck.org monitors the factual accuracy of major U.S. political players as well as key news stories.

FlackCheck.org

FlackCheck.org
Headquartered at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, FlackCheck.org is the political literacy companion site to the award-winning FactCheck.org. The site provides resources designed to help viewers recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular. Video resources point out deception and incivility in political rhetoric. FlackCheck.org is funded by an endowment provided by the Annenberg Foundation to support the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics.

First Draft

First Draft
First Draft is a nonpartisan coalition of organizations – journalists, academics and NGOs – with a mission to “protect communities from harmful misinformation.” Their global network of journalists investigate and verify emerging stories. They also share cutting-edge digital tools to help both content creators and the public determine the accuracy of information found online.

PolitiFact

PolitiFact
PolitiFact is a nonpartisan fact-checking website to sort out the truth in American politics. PolitiFact was created by the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, in 2007. In 2018, PolitiFact was acquired by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists.

Snopes

Snopes
Started in 1994, Snopes is an independent publication of the Snopes Media Group and the oldest fact-checking site online.

Open Secrets

Open Secrets
Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.

Sunlight Foundation

Sunlight Foundation
The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to make government and politics more accountable and transparent. Its Web Integrity Project monitors changes to government websites — revealing shifts in public information and access to Web resources, as well as changes in stated policies and priorities.

Additional Resources and Websites

Open States
Open States aggregates legislative information from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico so users can easily track bills, review upcoming legislation and see how your local lawmakers are voting. From 2009-2016, Open States was a project of the Sunlight Foundation, but is now independent and funded by, in part, The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Missouri School of Journalism, the Rita Allen Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Google.org and the Minnesota Historical Society.

Illinois General Assembly
Find information specific to Illinois’ laws and state lawmakers on this website by the state’s Legislative Information System.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking
The Foundation for Critical Thinking is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote fair-minded critical thinking through education. Find research and online workshops.

ProPublica
ProPublica, legally Pro Publica, Inc., is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. It is a newsroom that aims to produce investigative journalism in the public interest.

Good Sources of Information

In real life, we don’t choose one author and only read his or her books. Hopefully, we read widely across many genres. The same should be true when it comes to reading about world events.

When the same news is covered by many news outlets – and the information presented aligns on critical points – then it is likely that information reflects the core truth of a situation.

Peoria Public Library offers two online routes to access thousands of newspapers from around the world. With NewsBank and ProQuest Newsstand you can read the Peoria Journal Star or the New York Times. Almost always, the articles are updated daily. We also provide access to thousands of peer-reviewed journals if you would like to read more deeply on subjects. Search 13 databases – medical and other scholarly journals and government publications among them – through Peoria Public Library’s WorldCat FirstSearch. You will need your library card and a special authorization code from our librarians for access.

News Sources of National and International News
The following news outlets are among those recognized as being the most neutral and most reliable for national and international news. To help you evaluate bias across media sources, you can investigate various media bias charts. We recommend you choose ones with rigorous, transparent methodologies. Check out Poynter’s MediaWise Project for more media literacy tools.

Associated Press
AP is an independent international news service operating in 250 locations worldwide. Founded in 1846, AP shares its news in 150,000 news outlets, with subscribers from across the globe.

The BBC is a public broadcasting service based in London. Established by royal charter in 1926, the BBC publishes news on television, radio and online.
Founded in 1847, this Chicago daily newspaper, winner of 27 Pulitzer Prizes, is the flagship for the largest news organization in the Midwest, the Chicago Tribune Media Group. CTMG also publishes six daily suburban newspapers and more than 30 weekly community publications.
Incorporated in 1970, NPR is an independent, nonprofit media organization based in Washington, D.C. with dozens of news bureaus worldwide, providing news to more than 260 member stations that, as independent entities, own and operate about 1,000 stations nationwide.

PBS is a nonprofit public broadcaster and distributor of educational television, but its main source of daily news coverage is PBS NewsHour.

Reuters is an international news organization founded in 1851, one of the largest news agencies in the world, employing 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists in about 200 locations worldwide.
Roll Call is a newspaper and website dedicated to coverage of the U.S. Congress. It focuses its coverage on elections, politics and policy. Published in Washington, D.C., since 1955, Roll Call is part of FiscalNote, a private software, data and media company that also publishes CQ (formerly Congressional Quarterly).
UPI is an international news agency founded in 1907 by E.W. Scripps. During the 20th century, it provided news, photos, film and audio to thousands of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations. The website records more than 6 million visits per month. It is now owned by News World Communications and based in Washington, D.C., and Boca Raton, Florida.
USA Today is the flagship of Gannett Co., Inc., an international media organization with headquarters in McLean, Virginia.
How to Spot Fake News infographic

Check out the following books about media literacy and critical thinking that are available in the PPL catalog.

Truth
A Field Guide to Lies
The Organized Mind
Everything All at Once
Thinking Fast and Slow

Peoria Public Library Executive Director Randall Yelverton on the need to build information literacy. (Peoria Magazine, 2021)   Read article.

For Educators and Students:

The Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University offers free resources for students and educators to teach “the difference between fact and rumor, news and advertising, news and opinion and bias and fairness.” This center is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Visit the Center for News Literacy
Digital Resource Center