What the news media can learn from librarians

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Photo by Rich Grundy, via Flickr

WE CAN ALL AGREE IT’S BEEN A ROUGH SEASON for the news media. Hostile political crowds, accusations of slander, and struggles with what Guardian editor Katharine Viner has called the “waning power of evidence” and “diminishing status of truth.”

Today more than ever, the news media’s role as a mediator and gatekeeper of civic discourse is being questioned. Jeffrey Rutenbeck, American University’s Dean of the School of Communication, voiced what many are feeling when he observed in a recent Knight Foundation report, “Journalism has had the luxury of not having to ask itself the existential question of why anyone should pay any attention to us at all.”

He proposed an interesting way to tackle the problem. “I think journalists could learn a lot from hanging around with successful librarians.”

Why librarians? Their job is to navigate the world of information, help scholars and students get what they need, and distinguish good information from bad. They’ve faced their own technological disruptions, and have responded by developing a set of principles to help their public assess the credibility of information and use it ethically. They call this framework “information literacy.” [read moresource

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by Hugh McLeod

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Pratt Institute School of Information
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