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ESL 924 Carey: How to spot fake news

Identifying Fake News

Lesende (Reading) by Gerhard Richter. Painting of woman reading a newspaper
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, be concerned about the reliability of a source.

  • Can you verify this news story? Is it available on other outlets? Are different versions of the story published by different newspapers and writers?

  • Can you verify that the site you’re reading this article on is both reputable and representing itself in an accurate way?

  • Can you find information about the author, and can you confirm that the author is a journalist? Has the author worked for other newspapers or are they an expert in the area they’re writing about?

  • Does the author quote reputable sources and provide details to back up the story?

  • Is the article well written and free from grammatical mistakes?

  • Is the article written in a calm, controlled, and professional manner?

  • If it attempts to shock you or elicit an emotional response rather than provide facts, or if it uses exclamation marks and question marks, it’s probably not a reliable article.


Illustration. Lesende (Reading)  by Gerhard Richter, found through Artstor.

Is this really News?

Often you can use your own judgment to decide what is news. How do these webpages strike you?

Look at the website for the Associated Press, an international news-gathering organization based in New York. On any given day, you will see headlines and sentences about national and international governments and officials, weather, sports, arts, and other topics.

By contrast, National Enquirer covers celebrities - actors and other famous people - usually at their lowest point, often when they are in conflict with colleagues or spouses. Is this news? Well, it is to some, so it depends on your taste. The Enquirer has a reputation for accuracy.


Jessica Silver-Sharp's picture
Jessica Silver-Sharp
Canada College Library

Know the Bias of the Publication or Website you are Reading

Media bias chart August 2018

Although people disagree with how bias in these publications and news outlets are characterized, this illustration shows how both liberal and conservative viewpoints range from moderate to radical to irresponsible.

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