Lauren Williams is doing her part to help weed out the constant clutter in the whiplash world of the never-ending news cycle.
Williams — a 1991 Fulton High School graduate — is the adult and community services manager at the Columbia Public Library, part of the Daniel Boone Regional Library System.
She gave a slide presentation, "Truth or Misinformation," and spoke to Fulton Rotary Club members via Zoom during the organization's noon meeting Wednesday. Williams' presentation focused on tips for navigating digital news on social media.
"(The program) teaches us to be much more confident media consumers," Williams said. "We're not trying to tell anyone where to get their news or how to get their news. It's real easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of info out there."
Williams steered Rotary members through the different forms of media content, such as news reporting, opinion pieces, propaganda, public relations, social advertising and commercial advertising.
She emphasized media consumers should monitor their "digital diet" when it comes to cellphone or computer use.
"It's a doozy how much time we spend on social media — it might surprise you," Williams said. "I ended up deleting Twitter because it was not healthy for me. It's good to take a look at what changes you want to make."
Williams discussed a toolbox that can be used to differentiate between what is fact and what isn't when it comes to newsgathering. Those tools include reading beyond headlines, avoiding clickbait, considering sources and understanding what are opinion pieces.
Williams stressed the importance of investigating who writes the stories.
"Check on the author," she said. "Are they an expert? What are their credentials? Are they a real person?"
Williams explained it is also critical to question the authenticity of a headline.
"Is it a joke?" she said. "A headline that seems really outlandish might be satire. The line between reality and satire has gotten a little blurry."
Williams referred Rotary members to a digital media seminar, "Fact, Opinion or Misinformation," that is posted on the Daniel Boone Regional Library System's YouTube channel. It can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIuu0PQJ7EQ&t=53s.
"With our library patrons, we have to be very careful," Williams said. "We want to provide them with the information that they want, but also give them accurate information. We have to be very diplomatic about it."