Truth, Lies and Quibblers: Media Literacy for a New Era

Don't Fall for Fake News. Your library offers workshops and resources to build media literacy.

Photo of newspaper from Harry Potter booksBefore fake news and alternative facts there was … The Quibbler and The Daily Prophet. Yes, I am talking about the wizarding world of journalism. Bear with me.

For those who skipped the Harry Potter series, The Quibbler was Rowling’s storyline about a tabloid complete with sensational headlines, paparazzi and misleading (even fake) stories. The Daily Prophet, on the other hand, shared government-sponsored news, replete with alternative facts and spin control from The Ministry of Magic.

Imagine if Harry Potter readers graduated to Book 7 having gained media literacy skills from the stories. Sadly, the books’ negative depiction of media is troubling – both because it’s based in some truth and because it’s incomplete, leaving readers with a near total distrust of journalism. Sound familiar?

Lest we blame J.K. Rowling for the rise of fake news, it’s time to brush up on our media smarts. Oakland librarians can get you started.

DON’T FALL FOR FAKE NEWS - Workshop and Discussion Guide

In this interactive workshop, we cover key terms, practice identifying lies, bias and quality news, and explore the value of accurate and diverse media sources -- all while helping you make informed choices. We are available to visit your community organization, school or library. Check our events page for upcoming workshops or contact Amy Sonnie to learn more 510-238-6931. Next workshop is April 22 at the Main Library. Click here for info.

Educators: Download the workshop materials here. Includes a Facilitator’s Guide, activity handouts and evaluation form. For grades 6 & up.

We are planning additional media literacy workshops now. Have a topic you want us to cover? Leave suggestions in the comments below.


There are hundreds of lesson plans, websites and books on this topic. Some focus on how media shapes our views of gender or race. Others help you analyze website credibility with the CRAAP test, or check the political bias on your Facebook feed. Whatever you are looking for, Oakland librarians can help. Just ask!

Here are a few tools we recommend:

Teachers, librarians and parents, might also like Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation by Joyce Valenza, which compiles dozens more resources in School Library Journal.

No matter who makes the news, it also matters who owns the news. Find out which companies own what.

And don’t forget to READ FREELY and critically: Oakland Library offers free access to the New York Times digital edition and many more magazine and newspaper databases. As well as lots of great books:

 News for All the People Book cover Book cover Book cover  Book Cover Book cover

Photo courtesy of Karen_Roe on Flickr, Creative Commons.