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In today's political climate, facts are up for debate, many have retreated into media bubbles, and it's easy to encounter misleading or false information. Consequently, it can be easy for adults and kids alike to forget that every story is interpreted, and that stories get reported different ways to different audiences. With careful planning, Knowhere can be a useful news source to illustrate these issues to students, and to help teachers guide students through the ever-changing, murky world of modern media.
Have students check out trending stories on Knowhere. Encourage them to read critically, analyzing headlines and articles for bias and spin, by looking to see which facts authors include, which they leave out, and how Knowhere then categorizes them. Discuss authors' word choices and their impact on the tone of a particular article. Have students also reflect on and critique Knowehere's bias detection and categorization scheme. Does it seem accurate? How might all bias not be equally bad? What's lost in an "unbiased" article vs. it's biased versions? Compare Knowhere's "unbiased" reportage to an Associated Press or New York Times story. Is Knowhere's story better or more valuable?
Teachers can also have students dig into the perks and pitfalls of a free press, perhaps exploring why the founding fathers chose to make the first amendment about freedom of speech. Let students write their own news articles using different elements and rhetorical devices and then share with peers to see who can write content without bias, or with bias from different perspectives. Research journalism, credible sources, and the impact of news literacy (or lack thereof) on a representative democracy. Even the sometimes-inappropriate ad content on linked sites can provide teachable moments if teachers encourage discussion about how media outlets are funded and which types of companies advertise on different sites.Continue reading Show less
Knowhere is a news site that purports to present current news in an impartial and unbiased manner thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and editorial expertise. Starting with the premise "the truth is broken," the company's mission is to look deeply at the way news is reported and present stories in the most unbiased manner possible. Each article has three main options for reading: left, impartial, and right (liberal to conservative or blue to red). The site employs a proprietary AI tool called Cruncher that scours mainstream media news stories for keywords, details, and indicators of bias and spin. The editorial staff then presents the stories stripped of bias alongside left- and right-leaning articles about the same story. Underneath those options, there are links to additional articles on the same story with sources ranked by trustworthiness and color-coded in various shades of blue, neutral, and red. Users can opt to create accounts and unlock features that enable them to comment, rate articles for bias, recommend articles, communicate with editors, and get free access for life.
Since the site relies on content from other media outlets, there's still the issue of important stories going unreported or not getting the media coverage that they deserve. Major media outlets still choose which stories warrant attention and may ignore those that don't fit their agenda or world view. While this may not be an issue Knowhere is equipped to solve, it's worth teaching students to look for which stories are missing from the national or international conversation.
Media is complicated. It's difficult to understand and perhaps even harder to teach, but Knowhere can give teachers tangible ways to help students navigate news and become more critical consumers. Thanks to Knowhere's handy visual comparison of articles, teachers can more easily help students see how news is affected by political perspective and how things like word choice can impact bias. Knowhere can also make it easier for students to consider differing viewpoints, and see how media outlets use spin to influence readers' interpretations of news stories. Students can consider how reporters focus on certain facts, how they present their arguments, what they leave out, and how this might affect readers. This can lead to productive discussions about first amendment freedoms as well as how important critical reading is to being civically engaged.
Knowhere, however, is also at risk of reinforcing some outdated approaches to news and media literacy, most notably that there's such a thing as "unbiased" news (and that algorithms are any less biased than humans), or that all biased information is equally harmful. With this in mind, teachers can help students understand that everything's got some bit of bias, even Knowhere's impartial stories and its algorithm. And given Knowhere's process for determining bias isn't transparent, we have to view its judgments critically. Most importantly, students should also understand that news outlets must be evaluated based on their credibility (do they fact-check and verify? is there an editorial process?), not just bias. Two articles that Knowhere presents as biased may differ substantially in terms of their credibility or accuracy.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
Reading Informational Text
Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person).
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.