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ENGL-202-01: Intro to Journalism

Evaulating information in general

Not all information resources are created equal!  Be sure you think about what kind of information you are using.  Some quick guidelines:

  • Authority - Can you tell who the author is? What are the author's and publisher's credentials?
  • Currency - What is the publication date? This is especially important if you need current/up-to-date information.
  • Audience - Is it written/intended for an academic or a popular audience?
  • Bias - What is the author's point of view?
  • Relevance - Is the information relevant to your research question?
  • Accuracy - Does the author cite his/her sources?

See the Penn State University Library's Evaluating Information page for more information about how to ask and answer the above questions, and their Evaluating Information Rubric for tips on what to look for in books, periodicals, and web sites.

Evaluating news stories

Questions to ask when evaluating the news

Media bias

All news sources have political leanings, left (more liberal), right (more conservative), and centrist.  Determining the partisan bias of a news source isn't an exact science, but here are a few sources that may help:

Confirmation bias

As news consumers, it's important to keep our personal biases in mind, too. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that confirms our beliefs and avoid or ignore information that challenges them.  It's important to read about a topic across multiple (credible) news sources to get the full picture.

Fake news

Is the news report you're reading or watching outright false or not and how can you tell? Note: this is not the same thing as political bias. A story might have a political leaning or position with which you disagree, but that doesn't make it fake. Some tools to help you determine the veracity of the news:

Fact checking sites

Tips for recognizing fake news

News industry (and partners) efforts to build trust and transparency

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form