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Libraries Join NewsGuard in News Literacy Partnership

December 17, 2018, 10:34 AM HST (Updated December 17, 2018, 10:34 AM)
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The Hawai‘i State Public Library System is teaming up with NewsGuard to spread news literacy to library patrons in Hawai‘i.

NewsGuard is a new company that uses trained journalists to rate news and information websites using nine criteria that assess credibility and transparency. Nutrition Labels accompanying each rating explain how the site measures up against these journalistic criteria.

With its free browser extension, NewsGuard displays its ratings next to links on search engines and social media feeds. By installing the extension onto hundreds of computers at its 51 branches, Hawai‘i is giving patrons more context for the news they encounter online and helping them build critical news literacy skills.

“We have access to more information than any other time in history,” said State Librarian Stacey Aldrich. “With so many people producing content, it is important to have tools that help us make good decisions about the news we are reading. Adding this service on computers used by our library patrons continues the long tradition of librarians arming readers with more information about what they are reading.”

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With support from Microsoft Corporation, which is sponsoring the NewsGuard news literacy initiative, NewsGuard aims to improve media literacy nationwide by making its browser extension available as a free teaching tool. The company now works with library systems representing public libraries across the country, and is also partnering with middle schools, high schools, universities, and educational organizations to support their news literacy efforts. The Hawai‘i State Public Library System was the first to join the partnership, and it has been a leading voice in encouraging other library systems across the United States to participate.

“Hawai‘i is paving the way for other libraries and educators to join our efforts,” said Sarah Brandt, vice president of News Literacy Outreach for NewsGuard. “By installing our browser extension on more than 700 library computers across the state, Hawai‘i is recognizing the importance of news literacy and highlighting NewsGuard as a simple yet powerful tool.”

When NewsGuard releases a new rating of a site, the rating automatically spreads to all computers that have its browser plugin installed. Thus, when a Hawai‘i library patron encounters an article from a hoax site in his or her Twitter or Facebook feed, he or she will immediately see NewsGuard’s Red badge next to its headline, which advises readers to proceed with caution and links to the accompanying Nutrition Label for a detailed explanation.

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“NewsGuard’s goal is the same goal librarians have always had: to arm people with context about their sources of information so that they can decide which sources to trust,” said NewsGuard Co-CEO Steven Brill. “Our hope is that the more people see our ratings, which include detailed explanations of why we gave each rating, the better they’ll be able to make the same kinds of judgments for themselves in the future.”

With the support of Microsoft, which is helping sponsor NewsGuard’s news literacy efforts through its Defending Democracy Program, NewsGuard continues to expand to schools, universities and libraries across the country. Readers interested in bringing NewsGuard to their school or library can go online or contact Sarah Brandt at [email protected].

In addition to the news literacy program, NewsGuard expects social media and search companies to license its ratings and reviews and integrate them into their news feeds and search results.

About NewsGuard:
Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels,” conducted by trained analysts with diverse backgrounds based on nine journalistic criteria, for thousands of news and information websites. NewsGuard’s ratings are available through NewsGuard’s browser extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari browsers and are displayed next to links in users’ search engine results and social media feeds. NewsGuard’s ratings can be licensed by platforms that wish to make NewsGuard’s ratings available to their users. 

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