Learn to Identify Fake News


Nick Clancy, Staff

In today’s political landscape, it seems that more and more news sources are sharing “fake news” and prioritizing their views over journalistic integrity. Many fake news stories were published during the 2016 election; some believe that these stories were responsible for Donald Trump’s victory.  With the increasing amount of fake news stories, it seems as if it’s becoming harder to find legitimate sources.    

“Anyone can put something together and make it look official,” said library media specialist Angenine Goode. “We’re not critical enough of the information we’re getting.” 

Ms. Goode recommends thinking critically about what you are reading; if it seems like the author is putting his own agenda over the facts, then it is most likely fake news. 

First, look at the headlines. If it is in all capital letters, ends in an exclamation point or seems unbelievable, then it probably is. Factcheck.org recommends looking at the author’s qualifications f they are anonymous or do not seem to be educated on the topic they are talking about it would be best to avoid it.  You should be sure to read more than just the headlines; if an article is unable to support its claim, then it’s most likely unreliable. 

If the article comes from obviously biased websites, such as Buzzfeed, Info wars, or The Huffington Post, assume that they will only show evidence supporting their side of the story.  And it is best to read stories from left-wing and right-wing sites.  If you are unsure of a websites bias, this graph can help you. 

Next, be sure to investigate the sources of the article.  If you’re unfamiliar with a source’s credibility, research it.  The domain name can tell a lot about the source. Domains like “.com,” “.net,” and “.org” can be purchased by anyone, while “.gov” and “.edu” are reserved for government and university websites. If the sources seem unreliable or, even worse, there are no sources, then be very skeptical when reading. 

Compare the story to other reports. Searching for other articles on the topic can give you another perspective.  If many other credible news sources contradict the article, then it’s best to assume it is fake.  

“There a lot of resources you can use to tell if something is fake” said Ms. Goode.  “Snopes” is a website that is dedicated to checking the legitimacy of sources and articles, and may be good material to use.  

However, it is important to keep yourself in check.  Be sure not to assume an article is fake just because of the political views of the author or the website he/she represents.   An article may be accurate at the time of publication, but disproven by evidence later that was not available at the time.  

Today, news spreads fast and it’s important to be as well-informed as possible. Using graphics like these is one way to evaluate a source.