Using Wikipedia to assess source credibility and media bias for

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Using Wikipedia to assess source credibility and media bias for Powered By Docstoc

This is based on an actual psychological experiment conducted by Loftus and Palmer in
1974, which was designed to test the impact of language on our judgment.

Audience is each shown seven film-clips of traffic accidents. Following each clip, the
students were asked to write an account of the accident they had just seen. They were
also asked to answer some specific questions but the critical question was to do with the
speed of the vehicles involved in the collision. The critical question was „About how fast
were the cars going when they ______ each other?‟ In each condition, a different word or
phrase was used to fill in the blank.

These words were: smashed, collided, bumped, hit, and contacted.

If the experiment follows its typical trend, the average speed registered for the questions
prompted by the more violent language will be significantly higher than the speeds for
the less violent language.

Using this knowledge, how does the language used affect our impression of an event?

Hand out two articles: one the Wikipedia article on “waterboarding*” and the other a
Wall Street Journal article on the same topic. The headings of the page will be blanked
out so it is not instantly recognizable which came from which site.

Have audience jot down the persuasive or leading language in the articles. They should
focus on key verbs and adjectives that carry hidden or inherent meaning—words such as
“forced”, “despicable”, etc.

Most likely, they will end up with far more suggestive or leading language from the
editorial. Have audience share their results and lead into a discussion on who these pieces
were written for (their “audience”).

*note: waterboarding is just a suggested topic…choose any controversial topic that
applies to your class level.

Hang 4 sheets of large white paper (or giant Post-It notes) on the walls of the classroom.
At the top of each, write a major news event/celebrity/sports team/etc. that you know the
students will be aware of (example: Michael Jackson, 9/11, The Yankees, The Jonas

Hand out a number of markers and have students go around the room, adding information
that they know about the topics. If someone comes across information that is false, they
should cross it out. If they come across information that is partially incorrect, they should
change the information. It is imperative that the students do not consult the internet as
they are doing this.

After 10 minutes or so, students should have sufficiently filled up the sheets with
statements. Go over the sheets with the class, which should spark debate over whether
some of the information is correct (for added drama, sneak around writing incorrect

Engage the class in a discussion regarding this activity. What was the hardest/most
frustrating part? Did anyone feel like their information was unjustly crossed out? The
discussion should eventually lead to the essential question: What could have made this
information most valid, or trustworthy? The answer, of course, is if it comes from a valid

At the start of the next class period, students should be handed several small post it notes.
Their goal now is to, while working in a small group, find sources that back up the
statements on the paper on the wall. They should write down the source (web address is
fine), and place the post it note next to the statement on the sheet. The information that is
valid and justifiable will remain, while the rumors/lies will be recognized as not credible.

Hand out printed articles from Wikipedia (make sure they have both „cited‟ and „citation
needed‟ sections

Have audience work in pairs with highlighters (green, red and yellow). Highlight
instantly credible material with green, suspicious material with yellow, and not credible
information with red. Be prepared to explain your selections.

Group share: were there any sections that we all agree are credible? Why? Any that are
definitely not credible? Why not? What patterns emerge?

Extension: Students should find an article on something they are interested in (a band,
celebrity, video game, etc.) and go through the same process with the highlighters.
Using “mentor sources” to write for varying audiences

After these lessons and class discussions, students will write “mirror texts”. Students will
select (or be assigned) a “hot topic” currently in the media (such as the economy,
terrorism, the Patriot Act, etc.). The students will then write both a persuasive or leading
editorial, ideal for publication in a newspaper or blog, and a more Wikipedia-style
unbiased piece, presenting both sides of the story in an emotionally neutral and objective

The students should consult both Wikipedia and the previously introduced editorial
articles to use as “mentor texts”.

To demonstrate the different forums and audiences these pieces are intended for, the
students will publish their editorial (emotional) piece to their BLOG and their objective,
(unemotional) piece to the class WIKISPACE. Thereby driving home the concept of
writing to different audiences.
                What does this Unit teach?

- Demonstrates the power and subtleties of language in our

- Demonstrates the advantages of writing for different

- Teaches students to approach published work with a
critical eye.

- Allows students to read for an author’s purpose, goal, or

- Utilizes mentor texts to model quality writing for multiple

- Introduces rhetorical devices and their use/abuse in

- Exposes students to writing and its relationship with
current events and contemporary society.

- Shows that history and news are not static but rather
dynamic entities that are constantly undergoing revision.
                   New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

Reading Standards:

3.1.12.E.3 Analyze the ways in which a text‟s organizational structure
supports or confounds its meaning or purpose.
3.1.12.F.1 Use knowledge of word origins and word relationships, as well as
historical and literary context clues, to determine the meanings of specialized
3.1.12.G.15 Identify, describe, evaluate, and synthesize the central ideas in
informational texts.
3.1.12.G.16 Distinguish between essential and nonessential information.
3.1.12.G.17 Analyze the use of credible references.
3.1.12.G.18 Differentiate between fact and opinion by using complete and accurate
information, coherent arguments, and points of view.
3.1.12.G.24 Identify false premises in an argument.
3.1.12.H.1 Select appropriate electronic media for research and evaluate the quality
of the information received.
3.1.12.H.4 Read and critically analyze a variety of works, including books and
other print materials (e.g., periodicals, journals, manuals), about one issue or topic,
or books by a single author or in one genre, and produce evidence of reading.
3.1.12.H.6 Critique the validity and logic of arguments advanced in public
documents, their appeal to various audiences, and the extent to which they
anticipate and address reader concerns.
3.1 12.H.7 Produce written and oral work that demonstrates synthesis of multiple
informational and technical sources.
3.1.12.H.8 Produce written and oral work that demonstrates drawing
conclusions based on evidence from informational and technical text.
3.1.12.H.9 Read and compare at least two works, including books, related to
the same genre, topic, or subject and produce evidence of reading (e.g.,
compare central ideas, characters, themes, plots, settings) to determine how
authors reach similar or different conclusions.

Writing Standards:
3.2.12.A.7 Use the computer and word-processing software to compose, revise,
edit, and publish a piece.
3.2.12.B.1 Analyzing characteristics, structures, tone, and features of language of
selected genres and apply this knowledge to own writing.
3.2.12.B.2 Critique published works for authenticity and credibility.
3.2.12.B.5 Write a range of essays and expository pieces across the curriculum,
such as persuasive, analytic, critique, or position paper, etc.
3.2.12.B.7 Use primary and secondary sources to provide evidence, justification, or
to extend a position, and cite sources from books, periodicals, interviews,
discourse, electronic sources, etc.
3.2.12.D.1 Employ the most effective writing formats and strategies for the
purpose and audience.
3.2.12.D.3 Evaluate the impact of an author's decisions regarding tone, word
choice, style, content, point of view, literary elements, and literary merit, and
produce an interpretation of overall effectiveness.
3.2.12.D.8 Analyze deductive arguments (if the premises are all true and the
argument‟s form is valid, the conclusion is true) and inductive arguments (the
conclusion provides the best or most probable explanation of the truth of the
premises, but is not necessarily true.)

Speaking Standards:

3.3.12.B.5 Question critically the position or viewpoint of an author.
3.3.12.C.1 Select and use precise words to maintain an appropriate tone and clarify
ideas in oral and written communications.

Viewing and Media Literacy Standards:

3.5.12.A.1 Understand that messages are representations of social reality and vary by
historic time periods and parts of the world.
3.5.12.B.1 Analyze media for stereotyping (e.g., gender, ethnicity).
3.5.12.C.2 Identify and discuss the political, economic, and social influences on news
3.5.12.C.3 Identify and critique the forms, techniques (e.g., propaganda) and
technologies used in various media messages and performances.

Inspirational Quotes for the Web 2.0 Teacher:

"My vision of school/classroom 2.0 is, more than anything else, about conversations.
Traditional schools involved teachers and textbooks delivering information to students,
and students reflecting that information back. To better serve their future, today‟s
classrooms should facilitate teaching and learning as a conversation — two-way
conversations between teachers and learners, conversations between learners and other
learners, conversations among teachers, and new conversations between the classroom
and the home and between the school and its community."
David Warlick

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those
who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
Alvin Toffler

"When it comes to technology in education, you can create it, you can design it, you can
produce it, you can legislate it, you can order it,
restructure it, give it standards, and write outcomes for it. But the bottom line is that if it
is going to happen, teachers have to make it
Jacqueline Goodloe, Washington, D.C., Teacher

"The future belongs to young people who know where the knowledge is, how to get it,
how to think about it, and how to turn it into better work, better products, better lives."
Rexford Brown, Executive Director, P.S. 1 Charter School and Urban Learning
Communities, Inc.

"If your target audience isn't listening, it's not their fault, it's yours"
Seth Godin, Small is the New Big

"When used effectively in the curriculum, technological tools enable children to work
like experts--scientists, mathematicians, historians, writers,
dramatists, musicians, artists--doing real work and using the resources productive adults
Vicki Hancock, Regional Director, Northwest Region,
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Suggested Readings on Wikipedia and Web 2.0
Unleashing Web 2.0: From Concepts to Creativity by Gottfried Vossen
and Stephan Hagemann

Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools by Gwen Solomon and Lynne

Web 2.0 Heroes: Interviews with 20 Web 2.0 Influencers by Bradley L.

Weaving Web 2.0 Tools into the Classroom by Patsy Lanclos and David

Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
by Will Richardson

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by
Thomas L. Friedman

Wikipedia Revolution, The: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the
World's Greatest Encyclopedia by Andrew Lih

How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part of It by Phoebe
Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yates

Wikis For Dummies (For Dummies) by Dan Woods and Peter Thoeny

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don
Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

Making the Most of the Web in Your Classroom: A Teacher's Guide to
Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis, Pages, and Sites by Dr. Timothy D. Green,
Abbie H. Brown, and Professor LeAnne K. Robinson


 „David Keene is no conservative.”
 That is what I predict Mr. Keene‟s brethren on the right will soon be saying about the longtime
 chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU).

 Last week, Mr. Keene‟s ACU became embroiled in another of Washington‟s pay-to-play scandals,
 seeming to offer its services to an outside company for a cash consideration. And virtually the only way
 conservatives have of dealing with such an embarrassment is to declare the miscreant an “impostor,” to
 find that the city changed him rather than the other way around, and to excommunicate him from the

 But before that happens, I want to suggest that Mr. Keene, the head of an organization that has for
 decades judged the conservatism of everyone else on the scene, might just be the one who is truest to
 the cause.

 The story begins with one of those classic D.C. battles between big K Street spenders—in this instance,
 FedEx and United Parcel Service—that are thought to be matters of first principle to Beltwayers but
 that are completely uninteresting to almost everyone else. Employees of UPS are covered by one labor
 law—the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—while employees of FedEx are governed by a
 different one, a law that makes it much harder for them to organize a union. Lots of UPS‟s employees
 are organized; few of FedEx‟s are.

 The House has passed a bill putting both companies under the NLRA and the Senate is considering
 similar legislation now. UPS reportedly approves of the measure, while Fedex is boiling mad. Last
 spring spokesmen for the latter company even threatened to cancel an order for 30 Boeing jets if
 Congress dared to give its employees more of a chance to have a say about work conditions.

 Toward the end of June, it seems that an officer of the ACU named Dennis Whitfield wrote a letter to
 an officer of FedEx proposing that the ACU organize grassroots opposition to the hated legislation. Mr.
 Whitfield outlined the steps that would be taken: The ACU would mobilize the troops by contacting
 voters, “participating in Hill meetings including key members of the Senate,” and “producing op-eds
 and articles written by ACU‟s Chairman David Keene,” who is also a columnist for The Hill

 Then Mr. Whitfield quoted a price: All of this activity would commence in exchange for $2 million and
 up, depending on how far FedEx wanted to go.

 About two weeks later, with FedEx having evidently decided against the campaign, a group of
 conservatives wrote a letter to the CEO of the company taking UPS‟s side in the controversy and
 berating FedEx for —yes—using unfair tactics in the battle. One of the signers of the letter: David
 Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

 Last week, the letters were published and the story exposed by Politico under the headline,
 “Conservative Group Offers Support for $2M.”

 In response, Mr. Whitfield issued a furious statement declaring, “ACU‟s positions on important policy
 issues have never been for sale.”

 Public outrage has so far fallen mainly on Mr. Keene. But it‟s Mr. Whitfield‟s attitude—“never been
 for sale”—that should give pause to conservatives. What does he have against market-based exchange?
 Does he think that ACU talking points enjoy some lofty status above the free enterprise system?


David A. Keene, born May 20, 1945, is the current chairman of the American Conservative Union, a
position which he has held since 1984. Additionally, he is the managing associate at the Carmen Group
Lobbying, a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C. In December 2007, Keene endorsed Mitt Romney's
presidential campaign.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he served as the National Chairman of
Young Americans for Freedom, Keene has been involved in politics since the 1960s when he served as the
Special Assistant to former Vice-President Spiro Agnew. He has also served as the Executive Assistant to
former Senator James Buckley, Southern Regional Director for former President Ronald Reagan's
unsuccessful 1976 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, National Political Director for George
H.W. Bush's unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign, as well as an adviser to Senator Robert Dole's 1988
and 1996 presidential campaigns.
David Keene has been named a John F. Kennedy Fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics and
was chosen as a First Amendment Fellow at Vanderbilt University's Freedom Forum. He also serves as a
member of the Board of Visitors at Duke University's Public Policy School, and is a member of the Board
of Directors of the National Rifle Association. In 2007, he co-founded the American Freedom Agenda,
described as "a coalition established to restore checks and balances and civil liberties protections under
assault by the executive branch." Keene resigned his position with the American Freedom Agenda in 2007.
He is also the co-chairman of the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee, and has said that
"The right to appeal one's detention to an independent judge is a cornerstone of responsible, conservative
Keene, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, writes a regular column for The Hill, a nonpartisan Washington,
D.C. newspaper for whose online edition he also provides blogs.

Cover-up allegations
Conspiracy theorists say they detect a pattern of behavior on the part of officials
investigating the September 11 attack meant to suppress the emergence of
evidence that might contradict the mainstream account.[98][99][100] They
associated news stories from several different sources with that
Cockpit recorders
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the cockpit voice recorders (CVR) or
flight data recorders (FDR), or "black boxes", from Flights 11 and 175 were not
recovered from the remains of the WTC attack; however, two men, Michael
Bellone and Nicholas DeMasi, who worked extensively in the wreckage of the
World Trade Center, stated in the book Behind-The-Scenes: Ground Zero[107]
that they helped federal agents find three of the four "black boxes" from the
jetliners:[108][109][dead link]
"At one point I was assigned to take Federal Agents around the site to search for
the black boxes from the planes. We were getting ready to go out. My ATV was
parked at the top of the stairs at the Brooks Brothers entrance area. We loaded
up about a million dollars worth of equipment and strapped it into the ATV. There
were a total of four black boxes. We found three."[110]
However, information has since surfaced which casts doubt on the credibility of
this claim. The New York Post reported in April 2004, shortly before the book was
published, that Michael Bellone was in serious financial difficulty, owing more
than $220,000 to his publisher as well as in unpaid bills, "including hotel rooms,
flights, FDNY shirts, business cards and even prescription drugs."[111] Many
have speculated that a possible motive for the "We found three [of the black
boxes]" claim would have been to boost book sales, and there have been several
recorded accounts of flight recorders being destroyed in aircraft accidents.[112]
On September 27, 2005, Bellone, who had called himself an "honorary New York
firefighter", was arrested for stealing an FDNY Scott air tank, harness, regulator
and mask, and was charged with grand larceny, criminal impersonation and
possession of stolen property. Conrad Tinney, one of the New York Fire
Marshals who arrested Bellone, described him as a "fraud" and stated, "He's
saying he was made an honorary firefighter by New York Fire Commissioner
Nicholas Scoppetta. That's a fallacy."[113] On September 28, 2005, it was
revealed that Michael Bellone had been using the firefighter equipment, as well
as other historical artifacts stolen from Ground Zero, as part of a charity fraud. An
unnamed firefighter in a New York Daily News article said of Bellone's book
promotion and charity fraud that, "It's very ghoulish. He may have helped
firefighters at the time, but now he's making a living on this."[114]

The cockpit voice recorder from Flight 77 was heavily damaged from the impact
and resulting fire.
Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board,
remarked that "It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't
recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders."[115]
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, both black boxes from Flight 77 and
both black boxes from Flight 93 were recovered. However, the CVR from Flight
77 was said to be too damaged to yield any data. On April 18, 2002, the FBI
allowed the families of victims from Flight 93 to listen to the voice
recordings.[116] In April 2006, a transcript of the CVR was released as part of
the Zacarias Moussaoui trial. Some conspiracy theorists[who?] do not believe that
the black boxes were damaged and that instead there has been a cover up of
Bin Laden tapes
Main article: Videos of Osama bin Laden
A series of interviews, audio and videotapes have been released since the 9/11
attacks that have been reported to be from Osama bin Laden. At first the speaker
denied responsibility for the attacks but over the years has taken increasing
responsibility for them culminating in a November 2007 videotape in which the
speaker claimed sole responsibility for the attacks and denied the Taliban and
the Afghan government or people had any prior knowledge of the
attacks.[117][118][119] The Central Intelligence Agency has confirmed the
speaker was or was likely to be Osama bin Laden. Some people in the Muslim
world doubted the authenticity of the tape.[120] Steve and Paul Watson of claim that the organization handling the tapes is a front for the
Pentagon and that the tapes are "highly suspect".[119][121]
Foreign governments
There are allegations that individuals within the Pakistani Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) may have played an important role in financing the attacks.
There are also claims that other foreign intelligence agencies, such as the Israeli
Mossad, had foreknowledge of the attacks, and that Saudi Arabia may have
played a role in financing the attacks. Francesco Cossiga, former President of
Italy from 1985 until his resignation over Operation Gladio, asserts that it is
common knowledge among democratic circles in the U.S. and Europe, and
primarily in the Italian center-left, that the 9/11 attacks were a joint operation of
the CIA and the Mossad.[122] General Hamid Gul, a former head of ISI, believes
the attacks were an “inside job” originating in the United States, perpetrated by
Israel or neo-conservatives.[123]
The theory that such foreign individuals outside of al-Qaeda were involved is
often part of larger “inside job” theories, although it has been claimed that, while
al-Qaeda deserves most of the responsibility, the alleged role played by
Pakistan, Israel or Saudi Arabia was deliberately overlooked by the official
investigation for political reasons.[citation needed]

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