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Sorting News from Misinformation

Posted in Civics Online

Last updated on January 10, 2021

Many days the news that is thrown at us in the television media, print, and social media. How do you sort the facts from those stories that are working to mislead you? In this post, I will give you just a few tips, and we will delve more deeply into this over other posts and future episodes.

  1. Check the source! Is this a story from a legitimate news site? In our Civics Online links, we give you two options for checking News Sources, including their Bias and Reliability.
    • If it is not directly from a news site, disregard the information until you verify it with a legitimate news source.
    • If you don’t know the source, hover over the link. You are looking for the https://X.NewsSite.X to know the entity publishing the story.
    • If you are seeing a screenshot or photograph of a story in Social Media, follow the link to the original post to verify that it is real. Without a link, do a search for the original post. Use the main key words of what looks to be the headline to start your search. If you cannot find the original source, disregard the information.
  2. Verify the story by checking 2-3 reliable news sources. Skimming each story will give you a sense of the consistency of the facts across different sources. Wherever the narratives have common information, you will find most likely facts.
  3. Is the story from primary sources? In other words, are people who were at the location of the story quoted or shown in video? Or are you seeing a lot of people talking about events that they did not personally witness? Primary sources are where you find the most concentrated facts.
  4. How old is the story? Check the date that the story was published. Old stories cycle through social media often. Stories just published (during the current day or week) are developing, and may not have all of the facts straight.
  5. If a headline is upsetting, search the entire story for the disturbing words or phrases. For example, in a “Mayor Commits Fraud” headline story, you should search for “fraud.” If the story rarely or never contains that word, the headline may be inflammatory or overblown. Use Ctrl-F on your keyboard to do a search in a website from your computer.

Please contact us with any comments or questions on this verification method.

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