Move 2: Going upstream (Day 1)

Front Matter: Before we get into Move 2, let’s check in about Move 1. On Tuesday we looked at several political memes and you practiced Move 1 on them. Then, for homework, you were asked to apply Move 1 in a more formal draft in Google Docs. You will translate this into a WordPress post today.

  • Is your Move 1 draft in your WRT folder? Is it titled something that makes sense (i.e. “Factcheck #1 draft”)
  • What meme did you choose to examine?
  • What strategies that Caulfield suggests for Move 1 worked well? Which were more complicated or challenging?

More WordPress

Let’s take a moment to make sure everyone has:

  • created and launched a WordPress site,
  • pasted their site’s unique URL to our spreadsheet — to copy on a Mac use [⌘ + C] and to paste use [⌘ + V]
  • added an About Me page with an image,

Homepage settings. We talked briefly about the difference between Pages and Posts. One important distinction between WordPress sites is that users can customize them either as blogs (which set home as “latest posts”) and true websites (which set the home page to a particular, “static” page). Be sure yours is set up as a blog. To do this go to Design > Customize > Homepage Settings and choose “Your latest posts.”

Menus. Once that happens we need to make sure your “About Me” page is visible from the menu. To adjust this, go to Design > Customize > Menus and create a new menu. Add the “About Me” page to your menu and you should now see it on the home page.

Posting in WordPress

Now that WordPress is setup, let’s add your first post. Go to Site > Posts > Add New Post. Title it something that makes it clear that this is Factcheck #1. Even if it’s not perfect, paste your draft from Google Docs into this post. (Note: it is often best to choose the “paste and match style” option [⇧ + ⌘ + V] since sometimes the code from Google does not play nice with WordPress.)

From here I’ll talk a bit about:

  • embedding content (gifs, videos, audio),
  • formatting your posts (including bullets, quotations, and headings), and
  • adding featured images to posts.

(Keep in mind that you can use LinkedIn Learning with your Rowan email. Once you’re in, you can search for different videos, courses, and other content. If you are new to WordPress, or want a refresher, I suggest using the “ Essential Training” course.)

Why go upstream? 

Going upstream means following a piece of content to its true source, and beginning your analysis there. Your first question when looking at a claim on a page should be “Where did this come from, and who produced it?” The answer quite often has very little to do with the website you are looking at.

Chapter 10 of Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

Much of the web is predicated on making money from users’ clicks. For this reason, content on the web is often recycled, repurposed, or just plain plagiarized and stolen from other, more original sources (you’ll see a good example in the next unit when we talk about the economics of post-truth). Ad revenue, after all, is generated from clicks — not human readers. Here’s a quick video that demonstrates how this works on YouTube:

And even when original content is found it is sometimes sprinkled with more dubious sponsored content — that is, headlines or articles that appear legit but are actually paid for by advertisers. This can vary by platform. Here’s a screenshot from my iPad app from last winter, for example. Do you notice the article with a tiny SPONSORED CONTENT heading?

So going upstream can be necessary or helpful for uncovering moments when web writing is simply presenting “reporting on reporting,” offering “syndicated content,” or a story is uncontrollably viral. But what does going upstream specifically entail? How might you make use of it in your first post? Some strategies might include:

  • Following links to sources when they are provided.
  • Googling sources, or phrases from a text using the right-click [ctrl + click] search option when sources aren’t given.
  • Scanning search results for URLs — not their titles .
  • Executing advanced search commands like site searches (“site:”)

Finding facts and practicing the first two moves

It’s one thing to be handed memes in the classroom and quite another to go out and find sources for fact-checking on your own. But alas that’s what I’m asking you to do for your second factcheck.

You might recall from “Dead Reckoning” that in a section on the definitions of fake news as problematic content, they cite First Draft’s typology:

In this Medium article, First Draft helpfully illustrates how different kinds of fake news depend upon the motivations in play:

Where might you look for some examples of these? Generally you want to search or use hashtags keying in on dependably partisan or hot button issues (guns, abortion, millennials, climate change, immigration, ), or information that is only emerging (hurricane news, for example):

  • Google News
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

In our next class we’ll get some practice in groups fact-checking different examples and share those.

Homework for next class

  • Post Fact-check #1 on WordPress.