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News Research

Where to search for news at Grace Library

What to Look for in the News

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

  • factual? Does it present information that can be proven true or false? Or does it present the writer or editor's opinions and personal feelings that cannot be proven?
  • independent? Does the news agency, editor, or journalist have any personal or business relationships with the people or subjects they are covering? If so, they are not an independent source, keep looking!
  • reputable? Does the news agency have a long history of journalistic integrity? Or is it a relatively new company or website with a questionable or unproven background of fact-checking?
  • corroborated? Are the claims the news resource is making verified by other reputable news agencies? Or is this the only place you can find this claim?

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."

Spotting Fake News

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.

 

an infographic on how to spot fake news

This infographic is presented courtesy of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).

Evaluating Bias

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.

Who checks the facts?

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