Always think about the sources of the news you are looking at. Sources near the top are your best bet. Bias is not in itself a problem as long as the source uses good news practices.
News Quality Chart by Vanessa Otero, Ad Fontes Media, © 2016-2020.
YouTube introduction to the Media Bias Chart with Vanessa Otero.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Three-part series looking into the future of the European Union’s (EU) disinformation policy.
FUTURE THREATS, FUTURE SOLUTIONS | #1
The EU’s Role in Fighting Disinformation: Taking Back the Initiative / James Pamment
FUTURE THREATS, FUTURE SOLUTIONS | #2
The EU’s Role in Fighting Disinformation: Crafting A Disinformation Framework / James Pamment
FUTURE THREATS, FUTURE SOLUTIONS #3
The EU’s Role in the Fight Against Disinformation: Developing Policy Interventions for the 2020s / James Pamment
Terminology to add to the list, includes:
byline - a line giving the name of the writer of an article in a newspaper or magazine.
False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources
1. Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites are often shared on social media, including Facebook. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
2. Some websites circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, or present opinion pieces as news.
3. Other websites use hyperbolic or clickbait-y headlines and/or social media descriptions, but may otherwise circulate reliable and/or verifiable information.
4. Other sources purposefully fake with the intent of satire/comedy, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news, for example, The Onion.
Tips for analyzing news sources:
● Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
● Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources
● Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
● Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
● Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
● Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process. (This includes Forbes blogs, for example.)
● Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
● Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
● If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
● If the website you’re reading encourages you to DOX individuals (to reveal the private information of others, i.e., cell phone number, email address, etc.), it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.
● It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources, such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
Melissa Zimdars, Assistant Professor of Communication, Department of Communication and Media, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA