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Breaking Your News Bubble

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

Library Research Guide

Why Evaluate?

Graphic demonstrating the impact of not sharing unreliable sources. Text on graphic: "This person didn't send a rumour to the group chat. This person double checked their facts. This person got their news from trusted sources. This person asked how do you know that's true?"

This graphic from the infodemic article below demonstrates the value of checking news sources. Sharing and using the resources on this page will slow the spread of misinformation.

Misinformation and Bias

Some news is intentionally false (satire, hoaxes, disinformation). 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."   

Evaluating the News

Fake or Real: Social Media

Wondering to what extent misinformation 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, biased, or false? 

 

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 biased or created news stories use photos or videos that are old, are from other events, or have nothing to do with the article. Others may use photo or video created or altered using artificial intelligence algorithms. Investigating if and 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:

 

Photos and videos that have been altered or created using advanced technology can be difficult evaluate. "The term deepfake is typically used to refer to a video that has been edited using an algorithm to replace the person in the original video with someone else (especially a public figure) in a way that makes the video look authentic."  from Merriam-Webster, Words We're Watching: 'Deepfake', July 31, 2019.