How to assess sources of journalism, identify fake news



In an age when Facebook feeds are filled with headlines, questionable news, and angry aunts denouncing a post that just doesn’t seem real, how can you tell if what you’re reading is legitimate? ?

Chip Stewart, lawyer and journalism professor at TCU, explains to his students how to be informed about news consumers every semester, and we asked him to share some tips as part of the Star-Telegram project called The Source: Trust & Transparency in Local News.

What is a good practice to determine if the news you are reading is from a legitimate source?

Find out who is funding your news. If you don’t pay for it, if you don’t subscribe, you are the product, not the consumer. Remember, if you don’t pay for the news, someone else is, and that is often disinformation propaganda or public relations.

Usually you can find out through a quick Google search who owns the transaction and who it is paid for – is it a ghost group, think tank, or non-profit organization. non-partisan profit?

(A tip from Nichole Manna, the author of this Q&A: The Daily Dot, a tech website that focuses on online news, has compiled a list of 175 fake news websites that often appear on Facebook feeds. You can browse the list here.)

What if someone is already reading the story. How can they tell if it’s real?

I find this useful for me, but if something makes you really angry or really emotional or really happy, take this as a sign that you probably need to check it out. If it sounds too bad or too good to be true, it probably is. Stop and realize where this is coming from.

What drives clicks and shares? Outrage.

The story may be overplayed. It could be very old, check the date. It might sound like something happening in your community, but it’s really happening elsewhere. Use this as a sign that you probably need to check it out. Do a quick Google search.

(Another tip from Nichole: Does this storm photo look familiar to you? Is it too amazing to be real? Maybe. At the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, photographer Travis Heying noticed in 2019 that a storm photo he took in 2018 was circulating. like new. He wrote about it here and offered some tips on how to verify the authenticity of the photos. Sometimes they are real, but the descriptions are not not.)

If someone is suspicious of the content they are reading and want to google it, what can they look for to show them if it is real or not?

First, see if anyone else reports it. Then ask yourself, “Is this a real site?” Some websites were designed to look like regular media, but they are bogus news sites that exist and are managed by someone else.

Ask yourself, “Where did this story come from? »Have you seen him on Facebook? Then quit Facebook and go to Google. Do a reverse image search (you can do it on Google here). Is it a real photo? If this photo is real, is it an old photo? Is it from the storm that someone says it is coming from or is it from someone else?

(Nichole: Check the author. You can do a quick Google search of the person’s name to see if the author has a portfolio and where their work has been published. Many websites, like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , publish author pages and information at the bottom of their stories)

What if you see something your friend is sharing and you think it’s wrong. What’s the best way to approach this?

When something is generated from abroad, the only thing we can do is ignore it. I think it’s difficult because when people share things on the internet, other people don’t want to say, “Hey, that’s wrong. You don’t want to publicly shame someone. One thing to do is go private and say, “Hey, just a warning, that’s not real. “

There is no magical amount of education that makes someone see that things are true or not. It’s up to all of us to be careful about this stuff. The internet economy makes money by making people share and like things, and people won’t care about the truth at all.

(Nichole: You can also report fake news on social media. For example, on Twitter, users can report a tweet for being “deceptive about a political election or other civic event”. Just click on the three dots at the top of the tweet and choose “Report Tweet” to start the process. It’s a similar process on Facebook. Just click on the three dots at the top of a post and choose “Find Support or Report a Post”, then choose “Fake Info”.)

Do you have any other advice for people who want to be better consumers of information?

Trust the institutional source – your mainstream media, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the BBC. Go to your big institutions because they have high professional standards to follow.

Subscribe to your local newspaper. People tend to trust their local media more than the national media, and the only way that will work is if you support them… You have to pay for journalism, it’s a common good.

Other ways to verify information

If you still find yourself stuck on a story or trying to convince someone that their post isn’t real, there are other ways to check your sources.

You can use a fact-checking service:

✓NewsGuard is an extension for Google Chrome that uses red and green ratings and labels to help you know which news websites to trust.

✓Politifact, which is run by the Poynter Institute, verifies statements made by politicians and elected officials. Politifact even has a dedicated Texas page, which is produced in partnership with Austin-American Statesman. Not only does Politifact give the truth, yes or no, but journalists explain why the statement is true or false.

✓Politifact also launched Punditfact, which verifies statements by “experts, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, hosts and guests of hosts and other members of the media”. You can search by state or by people. Want to check if something President Joe Biden said was true? Click here.

✓ has been around long before “fake news” was over. The website was originally started to debunk urban legends and pop culture myths, but it changed focus and became an independent fact-checking website.

✓Google has launched its own fact-checking tool. You can search for fact checks on a topic or person or you can browse the list of recent fact checks.

✓ is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He works with Facebook to demystify false stories and political ads.

✓There are several ways you can check the authenticity of photos online: Google reverse image search, TinEye, YouTube Data Viewer, Foto Forensics.

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Nichole Manna is an award-winning investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram who focuses on criminal justice. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she was a reporter for newspapers in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Opie and Oliver. You can send tips and book suggestions to [email protected] or on Twitter @NicholeManna.


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