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Evaluating Your Sources: News Sources

find and evaluate web-based information

How to Spot Fake News

How to Spot Fake News infographic; text-based version available in document file below image.

"How to Spot Fake News." International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, World Library and Information Congress, 6 Mar. 2017, Infographic.

Fact-Checking & Bias Resources

Types of Unreliable News

  1. Satire: sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule and false information to comment on current events. Many satire sites will clearly state that their information is satirical.
  2. Extremely Biased or Hyper-Partisan: sources that come from a particular point of view and confirm existing biases; many rely on propaganda, information taken out of context, and opinions distorted as facts.
  3. Clickbait: sources that provide generally credible content but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.
  4. Conspiracy Theory/Junk Science: sources that are well-known promoters and providers of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and other scientifically dubious claims.
  5. Fake News: sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports; created purely for financial gain through online advertising; frequently created in countries outside the U.S.

What makes it unreliable?

  1. It can't be verified. Links or sources included do not lead to sources outside of the site's domain or do not relate to the topic of the article.

  2. Appeals to emotion. Unreliable news plays on feelings to ensure you won't be skeptical of its contents.

  3. No expert opinions or cited sources. Authors of articles aren't experts with credentials or journalists and expert are not consulted. You may not see an author's name at all.

  4. It can't be found anywhere else. Look up the claim or idea in a known, reputable news source. If they're not reporting it, it's probably untrue.

  5. Fake news comes from fake sites. Do you recognize the website address? If it looks weird or unfamiliar (like, it's probably unreliable or downright false.

What makes it reliable?

  1. Publication Reputation and/or Bias: publication or website is well-respected and provides factual, fair, and balanced reporting.
  2. Relies on Facts: does not appeal to emotion but factual events and information that is readily available and verified.
  3. Cites Sources: article provides (current) links or citations for sources used.
  4. Not Unique: article provides information or ideas that can be confirmed by other reputable sources.

Journalism Code of Ethics

  1. Seek truth and report it. Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information.
  2. Minimize harm. Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues, and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
  3. Act independently. The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
  4. Be accountable and transparent. Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one's work and explaining one's decisions to the public.