What to do:
Be a skeptic: Read/watch/listen very widely, from a variety of sources. For extra measure, check out sponsorships and funding sources.
Reliability counts: Some generally reliable sources are (some of which require a subscription): The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, Forbes, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour, The Economist, The Pew Research Center, NBC, or a site focused on balancing bias like Allsides, as well as various local sources.
Verify: Real news vs. rumors or conspiracies with fact checking websites such as: Snopes, Factcheck, or Politifact. Also Google anything you doubt to double and triple check that it really happened or was said from multiple sources. If it doesn't show up anywhere else, it's likely that it's unreliable news.
Be even MORE skeptical: Recognize that even typically reliable sources, whether mainstream or alternative, corporate or nonprofit, rely on particular media frames to report stories and select stories based on different notions of newsworthiness.
Be cautious when re-posting ANYTHING - especially from social media: The sources we share and engage with on social media are especially unreliable. If you share or use this information check and double check for accuracy first.
What to avoid:
Misleading statements: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information (examples: ConsciousLifeNews.com, CountdownToZeroTime.com)
Clickbait: Some websites sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions (examples: BipartisanReport.com, TheFreeThoughtProject.com)
Satire (intentionally fake): Purposefully fake satire/comedy sites that can offer critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news (examples: Christwire.org, TheOnion.com)
Reposts: Posts or reposts from social media sites.
False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “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.
Facebook ramps up effort to combat fake images, video: From the Washington Post 9/13/18
Fake news, hoax images: How to spot a digitally altered video from the real deal: From ABC News 7/23/18
How to Fact Check with Reverse Image Search: From Common Sense Education on Youtube 2/24/17
In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing?: From the New Yorker 11/12/18
You're probably terrible at spotting faked photos: From Popular Science 7/18/17
The William C. Bonaudi
Library and eLearning Director: