Skip to Main Content

Evaluating News Resources

General Guidelines for evaluating news sources, identifying misinformation, disinformation and avoiding propaganda


This guide provides information, tools and tips on identifying and avoiding misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.

If you are interested in a workshop on the topic, please contact me.

Evaluating News Sources

Evaluating News Sources  

Image with the the letters S I F T on it and icons for the concepts of "Stop" "Investigate the Source" "Find better coverage" and "Trace claims quotes and media to the original context"


STOP: At the beginning and at all times during the process, take the time to STOP and ask questions. What is the reputation and claim of the website or source of the information? Are you familiar with the source? If you are unsure, continue to the other steps to get an understanding of what you are looking at.  Do not read or share it until you know what you are looking at.

INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE: Know what you are reading before you read it. Take the time to understand the expertise and agenda of the source you are looking at.  Is what you are looking at worth the time and effort? Is the source significant and trustworthy? 

FIND BETTER COVERAGE: While it is often easy to find any source on a topic, your goal is to find the BEST source you can, which requires looking at multiple sources to determine expert consensus. You want to find the more trusted and in-depth coverage. If you can not confirm this on your original source, seek other coverage. 

TRACE CLAIMS, QUOTES AND MEDIA TO THE ORIGINAL CONTEXT: In these cases we’ll have you trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, so you can see it in it’s original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented.

Also, pay attention to timeliness and motivation/purpose.

SIFT was created by Mike Caulfield and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Types of Mis- and Disinformation

It is vital to understand the types of fake news that exist in order to understand and combat them. Image of the 7 types of mis-and disinformation as described in the text belwo

7 Types of Mis-and Disinformation (First Draft)

Satire or Parody: No intention to cause harm but has potential to fool.

Misleading Content: Misleading use of information to frame an issue or individual.

Imposter Content: When genuine sources are  impersonated.

Fabricated Content: New content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm.

False Connection: When headlines, visuals or captions don't support the content.

False Context: When genuine content is shared with false contextual information.

Manipulated Content: When genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive.

Check the Source. Confirm the Facts

Image of Isaac Newton with a quote "If it's on the internet, then it must be true" -Albert Einstein (inventor of the lightbulb) [1996-present]

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.


© , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers websites to or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback form.