While different news resources have varying degrees of reliability, it is important to keep the following in mind when evaluating the reliability of a news resource.
Is the resource
While a news resource is not necessarily lying when it is not factual, independent, reputable, or corroborated - good answers to these four questions make a resource's claims stronger and more reliable.
For a list of the most reputable and fact-based news agencies, see this Forbes article, "10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts."
Fake news is information presented as news that is deliberately false, usually in order to promote an agenda or drive traffic to a website for profit.
It is very important to know what "fake news" is not. News we do not agree with is not "fake news," and opinions are not "fake news" either. It is also not "fake news" when a reputable news agency publishes information that has later been proven false and corrected. Rather, "fake news" is information that was published by an entity who knew the information they were publishing was false in order to fulfill a motive.
Snopes is a reputable fact-checking resource. However, just like all news resources, fact-checking websites have to be evaluated for their reliability as well.
This infographic is presented courtesy of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).
Bias in a news resource does not necessarily make the source weak or unreliable. Bias simply has to be recognized and accounted for when evaluating their claims.
Bias is an unjustified favoritism for one person, thing, or idea over another. In today's information environment, you will find bias almost everywhere - from the most reputable news agencies to the most unreliable internet blogs, and even within ourselves.
Confirmation bias refers to a person's natural tendency to believe facts that fit their preconceived worldview and reject facts that do not. Some news outlets, blogs, and independent media purposefully use confirmation bias as a way to promote their own agenda. By reinforcing the natural biases of their audience, they can skew the truth to fit a certain narrative about the world. When consuming news, always pay attention to your own biases, and allow yourself to be open to challenges and new ways of thinking.
When considering whether a news source you are evaluating is biased and whether this renders their claims unreliable, evaluate their motive or agenda. Does the agency release information for the public good, or are they attempting to sway public opinion in favor of one person or idea?
If you believe a news source may be biased, refer to the same four questions: is the resource factual, independent, reputable, and are their claims corroborated? When in doubt, find another news source who has independently corroborated the claims being made.