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Journalism: How to spot fake news

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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? Have they worked for other newspapers or are they an expert in the area they’re writing about?

  • Does the author quote reputable sourced and provide details to back up their 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 illicit an emotional response rather than provide facts, or if it uses exclamations marks and question marks, it’s probably not reliable.

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


Know the bias of the publication or website you are reading

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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