Environmental Science

INFORMATION LITERACY: FALL 2018 Evaluating Documentary and Website Objectivity As citizens, we get information about current environmental topics from a wide variety of sources. Primary, peer-reviewed literature is not the most common source of information for most people. Throughout this class we will be examining documentaries and websites with a focus on critical examination of the veracity of the sources.

EXERCISE 1: DOCUMENTARY In the first exercise, you will watch a documentary video, and take notes for class discussion and for your home report, focusing on different aspects of the video. The video is: Leveling Appalachia:

The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining (closed caption shown in first hyperlink) http://media.oregonstate.edu/media//0_31doylem http://e360.yale.edu/feature/leveling_appalachia_the_legacy_of_mountaintop_removal_mining/2198/ After watching the video, we will have class discussion about the following questions:

Do you support mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia? Why?

What is one element of the video that influenced your opinion?

Is the video clip meant to inform, or persuade? How would you describe the tone of the video to a classmate?

You will answer the questions marked (Q #.# and highlighted in grey) in your lab report. You may chose to watch any of these videos a second time at home: Q1.1 What type of images are you shown? Which of these images are meant to elicit an

emotional response?

Q1.2 Concentrate on the people in the video (i.e., who are they, what are their jobs?). For each

person interviewed, decide if they are for or against mountaintop removal mining. What was the basis of their argument? Did they consider all sides of the argument? Were the arguments based on economic concerns, science, emotion, or something else? For your write-up, choose 2 of these people. You can review the video at home if you need to!

a. Mike Maynor b. Randy Huffman c. Jack Spadaro d. Chris Hamilton e. Dr. Ben Stout f. Governor Joe Manchin g. Anita Miller h. Ken Hechler i. Bo Webb j. Debbie Jarrell

Q1.3 To help you evaluate mountaintop removal mining, are there any types of people that

you’d like to have seen interviewed in this video? What questions might you have wanted to ask them?

Q1.4 Did your opinion on mountaintop removal mining change after your group discussion and analysis of the video’s presentation?

EXERCISE 2: WEBSITES & PUBLIC VIDEO In the second exercise we will evaluate public media, websites and a public video clip that discuss mountaintop removal mining. 2A – Public Radio & Companion Website- You can visit the NPR website at home to read the transcript, but we will listen to the story together in class: http://is.gd/ELKPBA We will discuss these questions in group discussion:

Is this story meant to inform, or persuade?

What sort of people do they interview? Are there other people informed on this issue that should have been included? Who runs the web site? Do this group’s credentials make it reliable or unreliable? Do the writers have a clear and transparent agenda?

2B Public video posted by an individual – of a mine and mine reclamation site (closed captions) http://media.oregonstate.edu/media//0_vqov4fws (public version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1d6-3NmrYI Then we will view an independent commentary about mountaintop removal

Group Question: How did viewing the helicopter video change your ideas about the coverage you have seen?

2C Public Television & Companion Website View the PBS Newhour story : How mountaintop mining affects life and landscape in West Virginia and discuss in groups. (close caption) version pending – scroll further for transcript at link below http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mountaintop-mining-affects-life-landscape-west-virginia/

How does this PBS story compare to the NPR story? Which site provided more in-depth coverage of the issue? What are the core issues in the mountain top removal debate?

Q 1.5 How does the PBS newshour coverage compare to the NPR story. Which site provides

more in-depth coverage of the issue? Remember to use specific examples from each source to support your answer.

Q 1.6 What are the core issues in the mountain top removal debate. Q 1.7 How did viewing the helicopter video change your ideas about the coverage you have

seen?

EXERCISE 3: PRINT MEDIA Before coming to lab, you will read the Mountain Top Mining Fact Book posted on Canvas. In group discussions you will answer: Who produced this fact book? Does that influence how you view the arguments and facts posted in this document? How does bias, or conflict of interest, influence what facts are presented? If there is an inherent bias or agenda to one view point (i.e., a document written by an environmental organization, or by an industry group), does this necessarily mean that the information cannot be trusted? What are the essential claims made by this fact book? Were you convinced? How do you reconcile the statements in this document with what you have read and seen, above?

Q 1.8 Who produced this fact book? How does that influence how you view the arguments and facts posted in this document?

Q 1.9 How does bias, or conflict of interest, influence what facts are presented in the factbook?

If there is an inherent bias or agenda to one view point (i.e., a document written by an environmental organization, or by an industry group), does this necessarily mean that the information cannot be trusted?

Q 1.10 What are the essential claims made by this fact book? Were you convinced?

Q 1.11 What statements in this document could you identify that conflict with what you have read and seen in the other material from the lab?

EXERCISE 4: TO DO AT HOME Now, locate other web sites on this topic. Here is an example: http://www.banktrack.org/show/news/new_report_card_exposes_largest_financers_of_moun taintop_removal_coal_mining Find at least one other website that presents additional information on the issue and answer the following questions in your lab report: Q 1.12 What is the URL, date, and author? Q 1.13 Summarize what new information the webpage provides.

Q 1.14 Who runs the website? Do they seem to be a reliable source? Do they have a clear

agenda?

  • EXERCISE 1: DOCUMENTARY
  • EXERCISE 2: WEBSITES & PUBLIC VIDEO
  • EXERCISE 3: PRINT MEDIA
  • EXERCISE 4: TO DO AT HOME