We live in a continuous news culture where the average consumer must learn how to deal with information overload. We have plenty of information, but not all of it contributes to a healthy, balanced news diet. How can we get the news we need to become informed and engaged citizens?
"If you’re a fact checker, and if you build a fact checking habit, over time, you’ll build up a library of trusted sources that you use. And if they have done the verification work for you, you can lean on them. Good fact checkers build this list in their head of reliable sources."
In this activity you will evaluate media news outlets.
Do you know the website or source of information? Start with a plan. Check your bearings and consider what you want to know and your purpose. Usually, a quick check is enough. Sometimes you'll want a deep investigation to verify all claims made and check all the sources.
Know the expertise and agenda of your source so you can interpret it. Look up your source in Wikipedia. Consider what other sites say about your source. A fact checking site may help. Read carefully and consider while you click. Open multiple tabs.
Find trusted reporting or analysis, look for the best information on a topic, or scan multiple sources to see what consensus is. Find something more in-depth and read about more viewpoints. Look beyond the first few results, use Ctrl + F, and consider the URL. Even if you don't agree with the consensus, it will help you investigate further.
Trace claims, quotes and media back to the source. What was clipped out of a story/photo/video and what happened before or after? When you read the research paper mentioned in a news story, was it accurately reported? Find the original source to see the context, so you can decide if the version you have is accurately presented.
The S.I.F.T. Method (Lateral Reading)
Verify, cross-check, and compare content you see online to avoid spreading "fake news."
Here are few basic tools to get you started:
Found an image you think may have been manipulated or photo-shopped? Use these tools to check for any digital changes:
Want more tools? Check out the Verification Handbook's List of Tools
"Information that is false, but not intended to cause harm. For example, individuals who don’t know a piece of information is false may spread it on social media in an attempt to be helpful." Definition from "Information Disorder: The Essential Glossary" by Claire Wardle.
"False information that is deliberately created or disseminated with the express purpose to cause harm. Producers of disinformation typically have political, financial, psychological, or social motivations." Definition from "Information Disorder: The Essential Glossary" by Claire Wardle.
The collection of evidence that supports what one already believes, while ignoring or rejecting evidence that supports a different conclusion. Definition from "Introduction to College Research" by Butler, Sargent, and Smith.
This term refers to the intellectual isolation that can result from algorithms predicting what information you would want to see based on behavioral data like search history, clicks, views, likes, and location. This may limit our exposure to opposing viewpoints and confirm our existing beliefs.
Definition from "Introduction to College Research" by Butler, Sargent, and Smith.
Occurs when algorithms reinforce or even amplify racist, sexist, or other social biases. Definition from "Introduction to College Research" by Butler, Sargent, and Smith.
An approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. "Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it." Definition from Wikipedia.