Category Archives: Access to information

Newspapers + Archives = Access

National Newspaper Week cannot be crammed into just seven days.  The deeper you delve, the more resources come to the surface. National Newspaper Week is also co-terminus and a propitious link with American Archives Month commemorated in October.

During this week we celebrate the symbiotic relationship. Newspapers and archives are links in an information chain on which our search for truth depends.  Newspapers determine and share the stories; archivists assure that the words, the statistics, the opinions are accessible over time.

Though newspapers and archives create and preserve the record it is the skill and commitment of those who do the work of each institution that we honor.  Now, more than ever, our focus is on the information chain as an interconnected whole – even more, we focus on the evolving and expanding role of journalists and archivists who work in tandem to facilitate the free flow of information and ideas that fuel this democracy.

To underscore the collaborative role of these institutions, on Day #7 of National Newspaper Week and as we look ahead to National Archives Month the focus is on newspaper archives.

Clearly, the digital age has transformed the process of archiving of newspapers.  As a result, strategies are in flux; at times there is duplication; at other times there are gaps. The challenge for professionals and the public is to remain positive and persistent.  Above all, information seekers need to know that the intellectual process of preserving the record and making it accessible is a human endeavor. Archivists, librarians, scholars, and others are on hand or online to guide the individual search.

Some starting point for searching newspapers – Please note that these are starting points only – guides to other resources

MINNESOTA NEWSPAPERS – RESOURCES

MN Historical Society Newspaper Hub – the starting point which will identify and link to relevant files: http://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/hub

http://sites.mnhs.org/library/content/newspaper-collection

http://mnnews.com/index.php/mn-newspaper-websites/

Minnesota Newspaper Directory:  http://mnnews.com/index.php/mn-newspaper-websites/

Minnesota Newspaper Association. (mna.org)  Membership organization that maintains listing for member organizations http://mna.org/newspaper-directory/

Listing of local newspapers (incomplete) https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&tbm=lcl&q=newspapers+minnesota+local&oq=newspapers+minnesota+local&gs_l=psy-ab.12…0.0.0.183480.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1..64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.ujHrTkXHq8c#rlfi=hd:;si:;mv:!1m3!1d1055050.836006896!2d-94.0380186!3d44.591910049999996!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i635!2i557!4f13.1;tbs:lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:1

RELATED RESOURCES –  Examples

http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/
National Digital Newspaper Program
A partnership between the Library & the National Endowment for the Humanities

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/about

University of Minnesota Libraries – Archives http://archives.lib.umn.edu/search utf8=&op%5B%5D=&q%5B%5D=minnesota+newspapers&limit=&field%5B%5D=&from_year%5B%5D=&to_year%5B%5D=&commit=Search

INTERNATIONAL RESOURCES – EXAMPLES ONLY

http://www.onlinenewspapers.com – international

https://www.thenews.com.pk  –   International

https://elephind.com –   historic digitized newspaper archives

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Community newspapers serve and create relationships

National Newspaper Week (October 1-7. 2017) is far too little time to learn and think about the robust range of newspapers on which we daily depend but occasionally take for granted.  To characterize the genre characterized as “community newspapers” is an overwhelming task.  In general community newspapers are either targeted to a specific geographic area or to a community of interest.

A good way to get a sense of the character and scope of Minnesota’s community newspapers is to dip into the Minnesota Newspaper Association listing for  “special interest newspapers: http://mnnews.com/index.php/special-interest-newspapers/   If you don’t find what you’re looking for, try this listing: http://www.usnpl.com/mnnews.php   You will no doubt  be surprised at the diversity of newspapers and of the communities they inform, entertain and to whom they give voice.

Community newspapers meet the interests of more than 150,000 of us who read one or more community newspapers on a regular basis.  We read to get a feel for the opinions of our neighbors or members of a shared interest group, to follow our elected officials, to understand a shared history, to shop for bargains, to find out what’s playing at the local theater, musical venue or athletic facility or just to follow the garage sales.

Community newspapers have played a major role in the nation’s editorial history.  It all began on September 25, 1690, when Benjamin Harris published Publick Occurrences: Both Foreign and Domestic.  And therein lies a short history with heavy free press implications: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Harrison

The history of what we now characterize as “community newspapers” reflects the nation’s growth and diversity – social, religious, geographic, and political.   Though today’s community newspapers may be digital rather than paper, the content remains targeted to a special readership. And many community newspapers can still be found at the newsstand, primed to be read on the bus or by the millions of Americans who prefer print or lack access to broadband….

Bottom line, as long as our right to a free press, our commitment to independent thinking, our inclination to connect with like-minded folk, and our freedom vote remain unfettered we celebrate the powerful role that community newspapers play in our communities and in our democracy.

 The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow. Bigness means weakness – Eric Sevareid, The Press and the People

 ADDENDA –   

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Newspaper Museum shares story of a proud legacy

Journalism is what we need to make democracy work. Walter Cronkite

One way to commemorate National Newspaper Week 2017 is to stress about the decline of print, the intrusion of corporate interests, robots, the proliferation of alternative facts and the perils of weaponized information.

Another way is to go back to the roots, to explore the ways in which freedom of the press lives in the minds and hearts of Americans.  Belief in the right and power of the press is embedded in the Constitution.

The history of the role of the press begins with the ways in which, since the founding of the nation, the news has been shaped and shared by newspapers.  Journalists gathered and wrote the news – newspapers delivered it.  At times this was, and remains, the work of one devoted individual or family.

To understand the history of the ways in which newspapers functioned in earlier times, there is no better place to learn than at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair.  Now in its 30th year, the Museum, now located at 1416 Cosgrove Street (street level of the 4-H Building) is a beehive of letterpress equipment operated by volunteers knowledgeable and eager to share digital age visitors with the basics of setting the type that tells the story.

Back in the day, the Minnesota Newspaper Museum received Legacy Grant support to create a videotape record of the Museum, then in a different site on the Fairgrounds. It’s a bit dated, with an emphasis on production, the video tells the story of the commitment to a free press and the role of every link along the information chain that continues to link publishers to readers. http://legacy.mnhs.org/projects/904

Since 1987 the Minnesota Newspaper Museum, sponsored by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation and staffed by a host of volunteers and Friends, has been one my favorite and most frequently visited exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair.  Several years ago I delved a bit into the history of the Museum, reflected in a post that tells more history, including the story of The Maynard News, a State Fair special edition (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/maynard-mn/)

Years later I continue to marvel at the power that lies behind those cumbersome machines and in the hands of those press operators. The posters and flyers that proliferate at the exhibit tell the backstory of the journalists who pursued and shared the facts because they believed that words matter and that the strength of the democracy is the responsibility of the informed electorate who receive and act on the print words conveyed by the newspaper.

The Minnesota Newspaper Museum at 30 makes a powerful statement and a chance for Fair visitors to learn and think about the rich legacy of the press in Minnesota.  Here’s the official Fair guide description of the 2017 Newspaper Museum

A newspaper living-history exhibit with demonstrations of the Linotype and Miehle printing press. See how type is set for the newspaper “The Maynard News.” The lead to set type is heated to 550 degrees and creates one “line-of-type” at a time. This Miehle Printing Press prints newspaper pages, one side of one sheet with each revolution. To print the other side of the page, the operator must turn the pages over and print on the back side of each sheet. Demonstrations begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Operated by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation.

Location: State Fair Buildings -> 4-H Building
Date: Sun, Aug 27
Time: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm 
On the map: View on the State Fair Map

And here’s how Facebook captured the response of Fair goers who followed those clear directions at this year’s Great Minnesota Get-together. https://www.facebook.com/TheMaynardNews/ It goes without saying that every visitor learned about letter press publishing – and about the legacy of a free press is Minnesota.

Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.— Henry Anatole Grunwal

 

 

 

 

 

 

DACA guide: U of M Libraries offer range of timely tools

For weeks now I have been trying to follow and understand the facts – true and alternative — as well as the motivation and implications, of DACA.  Paralyzed by the overload of information and prevarications I despaired of unraveling the truth, much less taking any sort of action.

It is with relief and renewed commitment to learn that I am finding a path to understanding.  For this I am indebted to an excellent pathfinder prepared by Kim Clarke and Karen Carmody-McIntosh of the University of Minnesota Libraries.  Students, members of book and study clubs, supporters of community groups grappling with the challenge to probe the depths of the issue – actually anyone who’s paying attention — will find the guide an indispensable resource.

This is one of many guides that the U of M Libraries staff create and share online.  To learn more about and subscribe to  the latest communications from the Libraries, click here: https://www.continuum.umn.edu/2017/07/library-search-gets-new-look/

The DACA resource is just one example of the many reasons that last May the U of M Libraries received this major national honor: https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/u-libraries-named-recipient-nations-highest-museum-and-library-honor

Important update:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/27/chilling-new-rule-allows-dhs-monitor-all-immigrants-social-media-activity

 

 

 

Trendy tools to translate post-truth terms

Learning a new language is always a challenge.  When the language to be acquired is designed to confuse and conquer, the task requires readily accessible  reference resources that clarify definitions and suggest appropriate usage.  The challenge is confounded when the language is repurposed with wild abandon.

Fortunately, lexicographers and wordsmiths are at the ready to capitalize on the opportunity presented by a newly contrived language, particularly when the use of that language is designed to misinform the public and to weaponize the native tongue.

Following is a listing of user aids that have been hastily crafted to clarify terminology currently in popular use in the conduct of political, governmental, and financial discourse:

Alt-right glossary https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Alt-right_glossary

‘Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/15/post-truth-named-word-of-the-year-by-oxford-dictionaries

Your post-election glossary, from ‘alt-right’ to ‘fake news’ http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/us/post-election-glossary-trnd/index.html

Donald Trump Glossary https://qz.com/845040/donald-trump-glossary/

Glossary for the age of alternative facts: https://www.thefactinista.com/pages/glossary-for-the-age-of-alternatie-facts

The 2016 Presidential Election: A devil’s glossary https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/the-2016-presidential-election-a-devils-glossary/505901/

Post-truth, propaganda, and bullshit: a glossary https://senseandreference.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/post-truth-propaganda-and-bullshit-a-glossary/

Cyberbullying Glossary, Cyberbullying Research Center https://cyberbullying.org/glossary

What They Say vs. What They Mean: An Inside-the-Beltway Glossary.  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/28/what-the-say-cs-what-they-mean-inside-beltway-glossary

Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and   murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.~ George Orwell

How real people approach the information challenge

Since about 4th grade we’ve all had the sender/message/receiver communications graphic etched in our Big Brain. In thinking about the path between sender and receiver we have focused mainly on the sender and on how to evaluate the content and validity of a message.  Though we’ve parsed the sender and the message, we have paid less attention to the intangible characteristic of the receiver.

In olden times, before the digital engulfed the information environment, we took for granted that the path between source and receiver was marked by guiderails and a variety of filters.   Research about end users focused on user skills rather than on the unique characteristics of the receiver.  Very little attention has been paid to the complexities that surround the conditions – particularly the attitudes of information consumers.

Clearly, social media has totally disrupted the paradigm. The challenge of the digital age is to think about the delivery system that links source with users, to reassess the role of filters, to address the unencumbered flow of disinformation and misinformation (which are not synonymous terms).  Today the spotlight is shifting in subtle ways to focus on the ways in which the receiver perceives and engages with the unfiltered message – and on how the source embraces the power to pre-determine not only the message but the target audience.

The time has come to take a close look at the characteristics of the receiver.

To some extent the library world has taken a lead in highlighting the power of the receiver, the ultimate information filter.  For decades librarians and educators have underscored, identified, and worked diligently to inculcate the skills and attitudes of information users.  >>>

A recent article published by the Pew Research Center suggests that we need to be thinking now not only of the skills but the attitudes of the receiver Though I am not inclined to test out the latest self-examination tool, what got me thinking is a simple test to determine ‘How People Approach Facts and Information.’

To be honest, I had not thought much about the reality that “people deal in varying ways with tensions about what information to trust and how much they want to learn.  Some are interested and engaged with information; others are wary and stressed.”

Pew researchers created what they called an “information engagement typology” that highlights the differing ways in which Americans deal with cross pressures.  The typology identified five broad dimensions of people’s “engagement with information on a scale ranging from “eager and willing” to “wary”. Researchers concluded that identifiable elements stand out when it comes to the enthusiasm of information gatherers – their level of trust in information sources and their interest in learning, particularly about digital skills.”

Noting that, to date the focus has been on critical thinking skills, information literacy, how to assess both the source and content of the information – not so much on “their interest in learning” the Pew researchers observed:

There are times when these factors align – when people trust an information source and they are eager to learn, or when they distrust sources and have less interest in learning.  There are other times when these factors push in opposite directions: people are leery of information sources but enthusiastic about learning.

The typology has five groups that fall along a spectrum ranging from fairly high engagement with information to wariness of it.  Roughly four-in-ten adults (38%) are in groups that have relatively strong interest and trust in information sources and learning.   About half (49%) fall into groups that are relatively disengaged and not very enthusiastic about information…, especially when it comes to navigating digital information.  Another 13% occupy a middle space: They are not particularly trusting of information sources, but they show higher interest in learning than those in the more information-way groups.

Briefly, their conclusions are these:

  • There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ archetypal information consumer – as with any human activity, “one size does not fit all.”
  • Those who focus on digital divide and information literature also face a mighty challenge reflected by the fact that “about half of adults fall into the groups identified by the researchers as Doubtful and Wary.” These are the individuals who have lower interest in getting assistance to help them get to more trustworthy material.
  • There is a need for “trusted institutions helping people gain confidence in their digital and information literacy skills.”  Noting how this relates to libraries and librarians the researchers observe: “Libraries might be relevant here.  Library users stand out in their information engagement.  Overall, about half (52%) of adults have visited a public library or connected with it online in the past year.  Those library users were overrepresented in the two most information-engaged groups.  Some 63% of the Eager and Willing were library users in the past year, while this is true for 59% of the confident.  Additionally, both groups are much more likely than others to say they trust librarians and libraries as information sources.”

Though the researchers are upfront about the limits of their study, their perspective is fresh. My appreciation of their approach increased after I took a very few minutes to study the “information disposition” of the participants.  Needless to say, I found myself firmly planted in two categories!   You might want to take a few minutes to find out where you find yourself in this typology. It’s simple, fun and really does jump-start a new and nuanced analysis of information seekers, a way to move from critical thinking skills to more attention on the deeply-rooted attitudes of information seekers.

Thinking about attitudes adds a powerful human dimension to the challenge of how we as humans engage with information.  (Who knew information literacy could be so complicated….)

Read more here – and check your own information proclivities against the typology suggested by the Pew researchers: http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/09/11/how-people-approach-facts-and-information/

 

 

 

Weaponization of information-Can truth survive?

Long ago and far away a library educator friend published an early info age book that promoted and explained the role of the library as an access point to information useful to the citizen activist.  Her intent was positive, to explain to activists the potential of reliable, authoritative, timely information that would affirm and validate a proposed action.  When her publisher suggested the title “Armed for action” she objected to the militaristic tone….

Now I realize that my friend was prematurely wise to eschew the “armed” image.  In this age information has morphed into the transportable  “weapon of choice”  to foment political action.  Though weaponizing information is usually attributed the Russians it is important to acknowledge that Putin’s tactics are not unique…

To be certain of the implicit evil of weaponized information, I checked with Merriam-Webster to affirm that use of the word “weapon” definitely connotes negative intent: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weapon

In truth, information is simply a resource, the user determines the use… My friend’s benevolent theme may seem naïve now – though just when information deserves no blame for the fact that it’s been weaponized.  Though history is replete with lies, the digital age opens the floodgates to their unfettered flow and proliferation.

And so we are drowning in a flood of commentaries on the weaponization of information; a smattering of opinion pieces are listed below.

Okay, information can be used as a weapon.  And yet the essential power lies in the receiver of information who is challenged to think and act according to the content and source of the information.  The “armor” we need today rests with the individual or institution that will take or resist  action based on the weaponized information.

As a society, we are called upon to grapple with the challenge to make “critical thinking skills” the norm—or in today’s parlance, how do we “normalize” critical thinking…  I prefer, and frequently quote,  my good friend Ruth Myers who would often ask, How do we inoculate learners with a healthy dose of “perceptive paranoia?”

The Founders, influenced by Jefferson,  envisioned a democracy founded on citizen access to and wise assessment of information.  Knowing this, we should focus not so much on the weaponry as on how we harness the power of good information (aka truth) to support this democracy.  In a word, how do we sustain a political system based on truth, and arm “we the people” with the power to recognize bald-faced lies when they are aimed at us with malicious intent.

RELATED READ: Social Media Helped Trump Win By ‘Dumbing Down the World,’ Twitter Founder Says  https://www.printfriendly.com/print?url_s=uGGCF_~_PdN_~_PcS_~_PcSJJJmpBzzBAqErnzFmBEt_~_PcSArJF_~_PcS