Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENGL 102 - Library Skills Objectives - Maple Woods

Objective

Students will identify the stakeholders creating and disseminating information and assess their impact on information quality.

Objective Video

Potential Stakeholders

Stakeholders are people involved with, impacted by, and/or interested in a product or process. Many different stakeholders may be involved in the creation and distribution of an information resource.

Stakeholders can impact the quality and content of a source. That impact might be positive (a factchecker ensuring a source's accuracy), negative (a publisher censoring content), or contextual.

When looking at an information resource, you'll want to consider your needs when deciding how the stakeholders involved impact the source's quality and usefulness. For example, if you want information about a computer's specifications, the company that makes the computer is a great source of information. They have a lot of authority on the subject. If you want honest reviews of how well the computer performs, though, you might look elsewhere - the company has a financial incentive to make their product sound good.

Explore the tabs to see some more considerations about different kinds of stakeholders.

The person, people, or organization creating the information source.

Some information is created anonymously. Depending on your goal, that may not be a dealbreaker, but consider the implications. Why might the creator hide their identity? What does that allow them to reveal or conceal?

Questions to ask about a creator:

  • What is their goal? (To inform? To persuade? To sell you something?)
  • Do they have a noticeable bias? Does that impact the sources they drew on or examples they use?
  • Do they  have authority or expertise in this topic? That could come from education, lived experience, past work in the area, etc.

The person, people, or organizations involved in producing and distributing the content. (Ex: Publishing house, scholarly association, news agency, NGO)

Stakeholders often involved in publication:

  • Social media moderators
  • Editors
  • Fact-checkers
  • Censors (internal self-censorship, external pressure)

Questions to ask yourself when looking at a publisher:

  • What does this publisher publish? What don't they publish?
  • What is their reputation? Do they have an agenda or bias?
  • Do they include fact-checking or other editorial controls?

Some sites with guidance on media bias:

The people investing money in the creation of the source.

Related stakeholders: the people profiting from the source. These may be the same people.

Questions to ask yourself when considering funders:

  • Did someone pay for this information to be created?
    • Watch out for search results and 'sponsored posts' that are actually ads.
    • Pay attention to financial disclosures in research studies. (Juul once funded an entire academic journal issue full of articles about their product.)
    • See what people or groups are funding media outlets.
  • Does this source encourage you to act in a way that profits someone? Is it selling something?
  • Does the source profit from views alone? For example, sites benefiting from ad revenue have an incentive to draw clicks through attention-grabbing headlines.
  • Does the creator/publisher receive government funds? Have they received pressure from politicians in order to maintain those funds?

The intended consumers of the information source.

Often a source is targeted at a specific group, even if other people can encounter it. Think news organizations with a certain political angle, websites for enthusiasts in a certain hobby, or academic articles written for experts in a field. Creators will often keep their audience in mind when deciding what to create and how to present the information. A scientist will write their dissertation in a different style than a press release summing up their research.

Questions to ask yourself when considering a source's audience:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Am I part of that audience? If not, am I missing context or background knowledge that would help me understand the source?
  • Is the source intended to evoke an emotional response? (Validation, anger, horror, etc.)
  • How might this information be presented differently if aimed at a different audience?