The ability to think critically about information is essential to evaluating its reliability and relevance. Use the resources on this page to help you become a better news consumer and critical thinker as well as a good digital citizen!
The S.I.F.T. method for evaluating information avoids the mental overload that can result from attempting to evaluate information/sources. Instead of using a checklist, you are encouraged to take action. Check it out!
AllSides is a new resource that seeks to defuse bias and counteract polarization by encouraging users to explore issues from a variety of perspectives. It offers news, opinion and even a dictionary! AllSides also includes a patented media bias scale that's useful in evaluating the political leanings of information sources.
You've heard these terms "in the news." Here are some helpful definitions that will help provide some context.
Confirmation Bias - The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories. Oxford English Dictionary
Filter Bubble - A situation in which an Internet user encounters only information and opinions that conform to and reinforce their own beliefs, caused by algorithms that personalize an individual’s online experience. Cambridge Dictionary; term by Eli Pariser.
Post-truth - Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Oxford English Dictionary
Propaganda - Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. Oxford English Dictionary
Satire - The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Oxford English Dictionary
Spin - Give (a news story or other information) a particular interpretation, especially a favorable one. Oxford English Dictionary
In summer 2023, the University of Rhode Island Media Education Lab had a series of events called Courageous Conversations. The goal was to gather data and insight into why and how misinformation and conspiracies are believed and spread, and what we can do to effectively tackle this problem via interpersonal communication. In addition to its professional development opportunities, curriculum and recommended reading list, the Lab has continued offering these conversations, and representatives are always available for in person and virtual presentations.
The C.R.A.A.P. test is a great tool for evaluating resources - watch the video and use the attached quick reference guide.
When evaluating a web news source, look for:
Domain Name – Does the story’s domain contain a country code instead of .com? This can be an indicator that you are looking at a fake news source.
Contact Page – Many legitimate news sites contain a “contact us” page. Sites that lack a “contact us” page should be questioned.
Advertisements – Many "fake news" sites contain ads for questionable content or products that do not appear on most legitimate news sources. Keep an eye out for the kind of advertisements that are shown on the page.
"Think about the classes you took as a student. You learned the subject matter, but did you learn how to evaluate reliable sources of information in that field? Knowing what's reliable is essential to learning, and a key element of news literacy." - John C. Silva, Director, The News Literacy Project
"Science is a systematic method of inquiry, that makes testable predictions and updates itself based on the totality of evidence. Scientists by contrast are people, subject to human foibles and biases. Any perceived authority they may have stems not from their qualification, but from accurately reflecting the totality of evidence. If they fail to do so, their credentials, education, and prestige are irrelevant — they are not practicing science."
-Dr. David R. Grimes, Physicist
How do we define reliable information in the "fake news" era? Librarian Heather Craven has developed a "reality-based" framework for evaluating and using information based on the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) framework for information literacy instruction: