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Breaking Your News Bubble

This guide offers methods and resources to critically evaluate the news you consume.

Fake News

Some news is intentionally fake (satire, hoaxes). Other news aims to be real. The creator, author, journalist, director, editor, publisher, producer, and sharer each have an opportunity to contribute a perspective or bias on their news products.

This video from How Stuff Works provides an introduction to fake news and an accompanying article "10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story."   

Fake or Real: Evaluating the News

Fake or Real: Social Media

Wondering to what extent fake news infiltrated your social media? Fakebook now offers an option to check if you followed any accounts from the Internet Research Agency (aka Russian bots.) 

Evaluating the News

CUT OUT AND TAPE NEAR YOUR COMPUTER OR TV 	1. In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong. 	2. Don't trust anonymous sources. 	3. Don't trust stories that cite another news outlet as the source of the information. 	4. There's almost never a second shooter. 	5. Pay attention to the language the media uses. 	• “We are getting reports”... could mean anything. 	• “We are seeking confirmation”... means they don’t have it. 	• “[News outlet] has learned”... means it has a scoop or is going out on limb. 	6. Look for news outlets close to the incident. 	7. Compare multiple sources. 	8. Big news brings out the fakers. And photoshoppers. 	9. Beware reflexive retweeting. Some of this is on you. From ONTHEMEDIA.ORGHow can you tell if an article is real or fake? 

 

1. Start with this checklist from On the Media's Breaking News Consumer's Handbook, Fake News Edition

2. Visit websites that investigate news stories and urban legends. We link to sites that not only investigate the stories, they provide you with enough information that you can fact check their fact checking. 

3. Conduct your own research. 

Google the article (or use other Internet search tool)

  • was the article really published by the news outlet it claims?
  • look at the other results from your search, do they call the article into question or confirm the information?
  • when was the article published? 

Google the author

  • Is there an author? If not, why not?
  • Has the author written other articles? 
  • What are the authors credentials? Do they have a background in journalism or a field related to what they are writing about?
  • What do other people say about the author? 

Google the facts

  • Is anyone else reporting on the same story? If not, why not?
  • Do other sites contradict the article? If so, why?

Evaluating Visual Media

Fact check photos and other media using these sources. Some fake news stories use photos or videos that are old, are from other events, or have nothing to do with the article. Investigating where the photo or videos appeared before can uncover these discrepancies.

Search for other photos of the event or person. Other photos may offer a different perspective or provide context.

Simple search options include:

More advanced researchers can try:

Opinions or Reporting?

 

CUT OUT AND TAPE NEAR YOUR COMPUTER OR TV 	1. In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong. 	2. Don't trust anonymous sources. 	3. Don't trust stories that cite another news outlet as the source of the information. 	4. There's almost never a second shooter. 	5. Pay attention to the language the media uses. 	• “We are getting reports”... could mean anything. 	• “We are seeking confirmation”... means they don’t have it. 	• “[News outlet] has learned”... means it has a scoop or is going out on limb. 	6. Look for news outlets close to the incident. 	7. Compare multiple sources. 	8. Big news brings out the fakers. And photoshoppers. 	9. Beware reflexive retweeting. Some of this is on you. From ONTHEMEDIA.ORG

Avoid searching with keywords that make assumptions like:

  • support
  • harm
  • improves
  • prevents
  • benefits 

Search engines from Google to databases try to match your search terms. A source may discuss your topic but not appear in the search results (or high up in the search results) if it does not use the same words you do.  

More neutral keywords are:

  • impact
  • relationship
  • influence