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Analyzing News Sources
False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources
Tips for analyzing news sources:
Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources
Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
If the website you’re reading encourages you to dox individuals (doxing is searching for and publishing private or identifying information about someone on the Internet, typically with malicious intent), it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.
It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
(Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.)
With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is challenging is determining whether that information is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?
A Google search is often our first stop to gain a basic understanding of the main ideas about a topic, but since anyone with access to a computer can publish anything online, it is crucial that you evaluate the information you find, especially when completing a research paper, or looking for important information (like health or financial information).
Web sources can be particularly hard to evaluate, so here is a handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAP.
- CURRENCY: How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
- RELIABILITY: Is the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
- AUTHORITY: Who wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it? For science information, did a scientist or researcher write it?)
- PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEW: Why was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?
This contribution was created by Pace University.
Fact Checking Sites
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center
Focuses exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy.
Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-check site.
Award-winning fact-checking site.
Provides multiple angles on the same story.
From the nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics, the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.
A national media watch group, offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship.