How to Spot Fake News? – Evaluating a News Story (part 1/3)
From hyped up television and radio broadcasts to fake news websites, unreliable news sources have become a global issue. It might take some time and critical thinking, but there are plenty of ways to tell if an article or broadcast is legitimate. When evaluating a news story, look for spelling errors, poor grammar, and dramatic language and punctuation. Examine the author and publisher, see if other news organizations have covered the topic, and use fact-checking resources to vet a suspicious story.
Part ONE: Evaluating a News Story
Look for spelling errors and dramatic punctuation
You might find an occasional typo in an authoritative news source, but lots of spelling mistakes and poor grammar are red flags. A reliable story’s content should meet academic standards. Be skeptical if you see phrases in all capitals, excessive punctuation (!!!), and other attention-grabbing devices
Meeting academic standards doesn’t mean using complicated words and sentence structures. Rather, it means an article (or a television or radio script) is written clearly, supports its claims with evidence, and is free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Make sure an article is current.
Check the news story’s date, as older articles might include outdated information. Additionally, someone on your newsfeed might have shared an old story that has been disproven or is controversial when taken out of context.
For example, suppose someone shared an article about a military conflict from 5 years ago, but the nations involved are now at peace. If you read the story without checking the date, it might seem like those nations were once again at war.
Check for expert quotes that support the story’s claims
Good journalism relies on authoritative sources and citations. Look for direct quotations from experts that actually support the story’s claims and weren’t taken out of context
For instance, if an article is about a new treatment for a disease, it should cite doctors who specialize in that disease.
Make sure a quote is consistent with the content of the news story. Suppose an article claims that a supplement is definitely a new cure for arthritis and quotes a doctor who said, “Preliminary findings are promising, but we need more research.” The article took the quote out of context and exaggerated the doctor’s statement.
Run a reverse image search
When you right click an image, you’ll see an option to search Google for the image. When you search for the image, you’ll be able to see other websites that have featured it.
A credible news story should include its own photography. Be skeptical if you see that a photograph is a stock image or stolen from another source.
Figure out the news story’s purpose
Ask yourself why the author and publisher created the article or broadcast. What is the information’s purpose, and who benefits from it being spread? A credible story should report facts without trying to promote some ulterior motive.
For example, some news stories are satirical and meant to entertain. You could also come across a story that’s meant to sell a product. Suppose an article about a supplement that cures arthritis was published by a company that produces the supplement. That article is a marketing device, not a credible source of information.
Consider how the story makes you feel
Check your own biases and emotional reaction. If the story fills you with rage or makes you feel smug about your beliefs, it might not be a balanced source of information
Ask yourself, “Is this story trying to trigger an extreme emotional reaction? Is its tone balanced and informative? Does it seem preachy or eager to confirm an opinion?”