Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Real-life example for lesson in information literacy

In my news feed this morning, I encountered a real-life example for a lesson in information literacy, specifically helping students identify possible bias in the way information is presented. I couldn’t resist sharing it, in case library media professionals wanted to use it in a class.

On May 9, the owners of a Central Point “Quiznos” franchise posted a note on the door of the restaurant, announcing that after 11 years of operation, the restaurant would permanently close as of May 16. The text of the message was also posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

In their message, the owners cited multiple reasons why they could not keep the restaurant open: “a string of crippling equipment repair bills, severe staffing issues, continually increasing costs due to the $15 minimum wage law, the near arrival of a new family member and two full time college schedules.”

The local CBS affiliate singled out a single factor when constructing its headline: “Quizno's Bear Creek closing due to raising minimum wage, owners say.”

The contrast between the text of the message and the information in the headline lends itself for discussion. To name a few that came to mind:

  • Does the headline accurately reflect the owners’ stated reasons for the closure?
  • What conclusion does the headline invite readers to form?
  • How might a reader form differing conclusions if that reader only scanned the headline, versus reading the entire article?
  • What reasons might the network affiliate have had for selecting this particular emphasis? 
  • What ethical responsibility does a news producer have for information’s accuracy?

An additional discussion might result from comparing media outlets’ headlines and examining their respective accounts. “Quiznos closing its doors” was the headline presented by the local NBC affiliate. The ABC affiliate chose to use the headline, “Central Point Quiznos to Close.”

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