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Media Literacy Guide: Fact Finding

Determining what is fake news is necessary and can be difficult. This research guide's purpose is to explain steps for finding the facts, how to use one's judgment and give examples for clarification.

Overview

There are websites and other resources that determine if a news story is real or false.  Snopes began as a place to search for 'urban legends', those crazy stories (one favorite is about the lady who dried her wet cat in the microwave oven - not true).  Snopes now investigates news to determine if it is true or false and they are reliable. Look below for other fact finding sources.

Fact Finding Sites

The following sites investigate news stories - they use techniques discussed in Evaluating the News tabs and they have staff who are experts at evaluation.

  • FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. Their goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Fact Checker, from the Washington Post, will focus on any statements by political figures and government officials–in the United States and abroad–that cry out for fact-checking. It’s a big world out there, and so we will rely on readers to ask questions and point out statements that need to be checked.
  • PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida, as is PunditFact, a site devoted to fact-checking pundits.
  • Snopes was founded by David Mikkelson and is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources. The site’s work has been described as painstaking, scholarly, and reliable, Mikkelson is a registered independent who has never donated to, or worked on behalf of, any political campaign or party. He is wholly apolitical.

Fact Finding

How to Fact Check Yourself

7 Steps to Better Fact Checking from PolitiFact

Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts from NPR (National Public Radio)

How to fact check the Internet advice from American Press Institute (API) staffer Jane Elizabeth. Article by Brandi Broxman from Real Simple

Be SMART

S     Source:

  • Where did the story come from? 
  • Is it a reputable news source?

M    Motive  

  • Why do they say so?  Do they have a special interest or bias that may cause them to slant information

A   Authority

  • Who is the author of the story?
  • What are their credentials?

R   Review

  • Go over the story carefully
  • Does it make sense?

T   Two-source test

  • Check for other sources about the story.
  • Does the two-source test confirm or contradict the story? 

SMART comes from the University of Washington Libraries

****Please note that the College is on remote operations due to concerns related to Covid -19. Find out about Library Services during this time.
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