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SUNY Geneseo Fraser Hall Library Subject Guides


Decoding Fake News: Decoding the Rhetoric

This Library Guide provides resources to help students to identify "fake" news, bias, and propaganda, as well as good journalism, with a goal of encouraging them to become engaged consumers of information.

Logos, Ethos, and Pathos

Using Language to Persuade or Manipulate
 
"He's an ex-con."

"He served time."

 

terrorist       freedom fighters      insurgents

                                    

denounced                 denied

reports                      allegations

implicated                  involved

exclusive                    swank

under cover of dark     at night

Activity: Rhetorical Strategies or Deception?

Group 1 Tricks of the Journalism Trade

What tactic is being used in these headlines?

  • "Iranians building up nuclear arsenal"
  • "Syrians refuse to stop funding terrorists"
  • "Americans bomb school in Afghanistan"

Which sounds more sinister?

  • "Castro’s regime made some surprising economic decisions." OR "Castro's policy advisors made surprising economic decisions."
  • "He's an ex-con." OR "He served time in prison."
  • "They left at night." OR "They left under cover of dark."
  • "He's a member at an exclusive club." OR "He's a member of a swanky club."
  • "Reports were made of his alleged involvement in a business deal." OR "Allegations were made implicating him in a money-making scheme."

 

 

Group 2 Consider how a writer's choice of words reflects their perspective.

Which sentence sounds more impressive?

  • Fewer than 50 people attended the protest.

  • More than 50 people attended the protest.

Which sentence is more objective?

  • Obama spoke convincingly of his proposal.

  • Obama spoke passionately about his proposal.

Which sentence reveals the author's opinion?

  •  Dr. Weil's books give a lot of details about his "cures."

  •  Dr. Weil's books give a lot of details about his cures.

Group 3 Detecting bias

Can you tell which headline writer sides with the perpetrators instead of the victims of this attack?  Headline 1 or Headline 2

  1. "Suicide Bomber and 2 Women Die in Attack at Mall in Israeli Town”
  2. "Terrorist Kills 2 Women in Attack at Mall in Israeli Town"

How do each of the authors of these headlines feel about the event?

  1. “Armed insurgents Detain Diplomats in Syria."
  2. "Terrorists Kidnap Diplomats in Syria."

 

  1. "Freedom Fighters Invade Mosul in Northern Iraq."
  2. "Armed Rebels Invade Mosul in Northern Iraq."

 

 

Which of these statements is following sound journalistic practices?

  1. "It is widely believed that the riots were started by a group calling itself the Peace Brigade."
  2. "Two bystanders stated that the riots were started by a group calling itself the Peace Brigade."