Five Tips for Judging News Reliability

Monday, October 28, 2019

James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO, Common Sense

We are pleased to share this important list of tips excerpted from News Literacy in the Age of Social Media by James P. Steyer from our journal the Parents League Review so you can help your child judge news reliability.

  1. Ask critical questions.
    Encourage kids to ask questions about the information they’re receiving. Are there any inconsistencies in the content? Is the argument credible? Whom is the message for? What techniques are being used to make this message credible? What details were left out, and why? Double check citations to see if they exist and if the information in the citation conflicts or agrees with the article.
     
  2. Consider the source.
    Examine the URL to spot unusual domain names, or domains that ape legitimate news sources, but aren’t. In other words, who created the content? Why did they create it? What else is on the site? Check to see how the site makes money, who funds the website and who is on the advisory board. Examine the author’s credentials and what else that author has produced.
     
  3. Check your emotions.
    Fake or biased articles try to get audiences emotionally invested. It can be a subtle effort to encourage positive associations with a product, movement or brand, or it can be blatant manipulation designed to sow distrust, influence votes or stir hatred. Emotions are powerful, and they can prevent people from thinking clearly. Ask yourself how the content made you feel.
     
  4. Have conversations and discuss the news.
    With so many “gray areas,” it’s important to have regular conversations with our kids about what information they’re getting online and how they’re weighing bias, opinion and agenda. They may be children, but they’re dealing with information that’s often geared toward adults.
     
  5. Cross-check with other news outlets.
    Are other news outlets reporting the same story? If so, do the facts differ, and why? If the story involves an image, do a reverse image search to see where else the image has appeared and in what context. Dramatic images, displayed out of context, can lead to false conclusions.

Source: Sierra Filucci, “How to Spot Fake News (and Teach Kids to be Media Savvy),” Common Sense Media, March 20, 2017.

This content first appeared in the 2018 issue of the Parents League Review. Get the current issue of the Review free with a family membership. Or purchase it separately.

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