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Evaluating News Resources: Steps and Tools for Evaluating the News

General Guidelines for evaluating news sources, detecting fake news, identifying digital disinformation and avoiding propaganda

Evaluating News Sources

Evaluating News Sources 

Currency.Relevance.Authority.Accuracy.Purpose

Currency: Is this a recent article? Many articles shared on social media are older articles that may relate to current events. If the article is not recent, the claims may no longer be relevant or have been proven wrong.

Relevance: Is the article relevant? While some articles may appear to be addressing a current topic, you must read past the headline and determine the relevancy of the content for your purposes.

Authority: Who is the author? Has the author written other articles on the same or similar topic? What are the author's credentials? What is the domain of the website? Many websites these days mimic the legitimate source, take the time to look carefully. Is the source a blog or a news source? Is the website satirical or a hoax?

Accuracy: Is this article from an unbiased source? Can the content be verified by multiple sources? If it appears in only one publication with no links to sources, it is very likely to be inaccurate. This is particularly important with images that are shared widely across social media.

Purpose: Does this article provoke an emotional response? The intent of a valid news sources is to inform. While an emotional response to specific information is to be expected, inaccurate news articles are often written for the sole purpose of provoking anger, outrage, fear, happiness, excitement or confirmation of ones' own beliefs.

Developed by: Meriam Library, California State University                     http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf

Types of Mis- and Disinformation

It is vital to understand the types of fake news that exist in order to understand and combat them.

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Check the Source. Confirm the Facts

Fact Checking Sites

Use these sites to look up stories and information in order to help verify and understand the type of information being shared. They are well researched and resourced and can and should be trusted.

Consistency and Bias

It is important to understand bias in information and be aware of one's own confirmation bias. These sites provide information on the bias of sources as well as suggested ways to get information outside of one's own bubble. While bias is important to understand and must be taken into account when evaluating sources, even more important is a source's consistency in providing factual, verifiable, documented and well sourced information. These websites also evaluate sources on their record of providing this type of well researched and verified information.

Learn more about biastypes of bias, objectivity in reporting, and the difference between reporting and opinion pieces
with these tutorials.

Fact Checking - Specific to Politics and Elections

These websites fact check and provide information specific to politics, politicians and elections. They are especially important for finding facts and information for making informed decisions on voting.

Reverse Image Search

Reverse Image Searching

A quick an easy way to validate information is to research the images that accompany it. An out of context or faked/photo-shopped image will immediately indicate that the information could be misleading or false.  Reverse image searching is also useful in tracking where an image or story originated in order to better understand the information and intent. Use these sites to verify all images to determine they have not been faked or manipulated or taken out of context.

Library News Resources

Before you Share

CHECK IT BEFORE YOU SHARE IT

A bit about CLICKBAIT. Every time a story is clicked on, money is made. It doesn't matter if it is accurate or authoritative- YOU must determine those qualities before you share or click.

VERIFY: Are there links to other sources to back up the facts? Does the information appear on other news sites? Can you find the original source of a story or image shared widely on social media? Can it be verified by fact checking websites?

EMOTION: What emoji does it make you want to use. Misinformation, disinformation and propaganda are all designed specifically to elicit a strong emotional response. Check your echo chamber and your confirmation bias.

AUTHORS: Google the author. What else have the written? Are they expert or an authority? Who is paying them?

SOURCE: Check the URL. What is the source's intent? Ads? Links to other sources? Reverse Google search images that accompany the article. Verify embedded videos and tweets.

 

Lists

Check your Knowledge

Reference and Instruction Librarian

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Katie Anderson
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