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The News: Evaluating and Using News Sources: News Evaluation Tips & Spotting Fake News

What is the news? Are all news sources equal? How can you determine whether a news sources is credible, biased? Is your news sources Fact reporting, analytical or propaganda?

The Purpose of this Evaluating News Sources LibGuide Page

New is a reporting on events of the world, nation and local area,

but not all news sources are reliable or trustworthy. 

Some Companies claim to be news sources, but in reality they are entertainment blogs or websites which depend on advertising dollars or "clicks".   

What does this mean to you?

As scholar researcher and personal consumer of news, it is your responsibility to evaluate the news sources you wish to cite.

This guide will help you make informed decisions about what king of news sources to use.

What is the difference between "Misinformation" and Disinformation"?

   Misinformation is false or inaccurate information. In addition, it may may be incomplete or outdated.  

   Disinformation is also false or inaccurate information, but that information is shared deliberately with the intent to mislead.

Misinformation, disinformation and Malinformation venn diagram comparing falseness and intent to harm.

Newseum Blog and Postings page showing the Newseum and blog content

Studies Show that Students Cannot Distinguish Fake News From Factual News

How False News Can Spread

Fake Photos: Its Not Just News that Gets Faked

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Wendy Sardella
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Fake News in a Post Fact World

Evaluating News Article take you to the article of the same title from EasyBib

When reading a news article, consider the following:

1. What kind of article is it? 

News Story- a fact-based story for print or broadcast media about a person, place or event answering the five W questions: who, what, when, where, why and how.  A news story is written in the upside down-pyramid style, giving the most important information first with additional details later.

Editorial- A brief article written by an editor that expresses a newspaper's or publishing house's own views and policies on a current issue.

If written by an outsider it normally carries a disclaimer saying the article does not necessarily reflects the publisher's official views.

Opinion - an article in which the writer expresses their personal opinion, typically one which is controversial or provocative, about a particular issue or item of news.

Advertisement -a paid, public communication about causes, goods, services, ideas, organizations, people, or places designed to inform or motivate.  

2. What is the main point of the story?

Does the headline and first paragraph support the main point of the story? Has the story answered the questions of Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? ​Unreliable news sources may use sensational headlines to get "cllcks" 

  • Unknown, unanswered, or unclear information should be acknowledged in the article 

  • Other sides (Opposing viewpoints) should be given a chance to present their argument 

  • Breaking stories are often incomplete or inaccurate due to deadlines, and should be updated as information becomes available 

3. What evidence supports the main point of the story?


What evidence has verified or left unverified?

  • How was it verified
  • Is the evidence direct or indirect

Note: Evidence is not the same as a source. Evidence is the proof offered by the source.a source offers. Evidence that is verified has been checked and corroborated by reliable methods.

4. What kind of sources are cited in the article

  • A source is the person, report, or data being quoted 

  • It should be disclosed whether sources are named or unnamed.

    • Are there multiple sources reporting the same thing?

    • Are they reliable sources

    • Are the close to the event or issue?

    • Look at the producer of the information

  • Do they have a connection to the events? Or a reason to report in a biased manner? 
  • Does the journalist (reporter, news source) make their work transparent?
    • Do the editor(s), publishers and advertising department work together? 

      • Do they have a code of ethics? 

      • Finding out should be easy if it is a reputable source

      • Potential conflicts of interest or known associations should be stated up front in an article

      • Funding and ownership of the media production should be publicly stated or available


Rosenstiel, Tom. “Six Questions That Will Tell You What Media to Trust.” American Press Institute, 23 Oct. 2013,

Games and Quizzes

Now that you know more about Fake News you can test your skills:

The Problem with Fake News!


Fact Checking Sites

Fact-checking websites can help you investigate claims to help you determine whether what you hear or read is true. These resources can help you determine the legitimacy of a claim, but even fact-checking websites should be examined critically. 

Differences Between Information and News

  Information is factual

1. Accurate & timely
2. specific and organized
3. presented in context to provide meaning
4. helps increase our understanding

  What takes information and allows it to be news is whether it interesting enough to be reported. Is it newsworthy?

  Newsworthiness: Should be current and impact the individuals targeted with the information.  

  1. Current
  2. Have impact for those people it reaches
  3. Be interesting,
  4. Have conflict,
  5. Be bizarre or have celebrity value 

Finally, its not news if no one cares.

Article adapted from PBS Newsworthiness Checklist and information.  Test your sources against the: PBS Newsworthiness Checklist

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