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News Literacy Basics
A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center for Media & Journalism found that half of Americans consider fake news to be a significant problem facing the country, with many of them adjusting their news consumption habits to try and avoid it. Being able to evaluate news articles and identify potentially fake is a valuable skill. Included under that is the ability to identify potentially misleading news or headlines. When looking at stories to determine whether or not they're credible, the following steps may be helpful (adapted from the lists provided by Eugene Public Library and the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library):
Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.
Read beyond the headline. Headlines can be outrageous in effort to get clicks. Skim the article to see if it's an accurate summary.
Check the author. Do a quick Google search on the author. Are they credible?
See if it's an opinion piece. Credible media outlets can run opinion pieces that distort the news and aren't subject to the same standards as their news articles.
Determine if sources support the story. Click those links or find the original study if the article references one. Determine if the subsequent info actually supports the story.
Check the date. Older articles may circulate as new information on social media.
Consider that it might be satire. If it seems too outlandish, it might be satire. Do some quick research on the site and author to find out.
Check your biases.
Ask the experts. Ask a librarian, or consult one of the fact-checking sites outlined below.
Scholarly vs Popular Sources
As part of its series of "Library How Tos" Canvas modules, OSU Libraries has a page discussing the differences between scholarly and popular communication. Depending on the assignment, professors might specify that only scholarly articles can be used, so knowing the difference can be important. It may also help when reading about research in the news and how information is presented.
For more information, visit the module here.
Fact Checking Your News
If you're unsure about whether or not the article you're reading has false or misleading information, the following websites are good sources for verifying the information:
Checking credibility and biases
- Media Bias/Fact Check - Enter the name of your favorite news source to learn its bias. Learn how sites are rated on the methodology page. Browse lists including false news and satire sites.
- All Sides - Compare how news is reported. News and issues on the same topic listed side by side: left, center, right.
- Liberal and conservative news sources - A 2014 Business Insider article based on user survey data from the Pew Research Center.
Business/Social Sciences Data Librarian