Can You Spot Fake News?

October 21-25, 2019 is Media Literacy Week in the United States. Today’s information and entertainment technologies communicate using a powerful combination of words, images, videos, and sounds. As a result, we need to develop a wider set of literacy skills helping us to both comprehend the messages we receive and effectively utilize these tools to design and distribute our own messages. In today's world of social and online media dissemination, a crucial part of media literacy is being able to determine what is a legitimate news source, and what is not.

Fake news can come from a variety of sources, some more obvious than others. Stories can seem like real news stories but are actually misleading, hoaxes, clickbait, satire, or propaganda. So, how are you supposed to know what is a trusted news source and what isn’t? For starters, reliable news sources will have fact-checked their information, will provide sources for their information and will be unbiased. When evaluating a news article, be aware that fake news often preys upon our biases.

Some questions to ask when determining the reliability of a news article include:

  • Have you heard of the news organization that has published the article you are reading?
  • Does the story provide both sides of the debate?
  • Are any facts being left out?
  • Are there any sources cited?
  • Is the article targeting emotions instead of intellect?
  • Does the story sound too crazy to be true?

Check out these websites for further learning:

Fake News and Evaluating Sources, opens a new window from the J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library at Loyola University New Orleans 

Fake News Checklist, opens a new window from the City University of New York’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism 

How to Identify and Avoid Fake News, opens a new window from Indiana University East

School Library Journal article “Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a “post-truth” world” 

Test out your fake-news-spotting skills by playing the online fact or fake news game, FACTITIOUS, opens a new window.

For further reading on this topic, take a look at this list of books that you can find at the library:

Fact or Fake? Books to help you be informed


View Full List

If you have questions about media literacy, and determining legitimate news sources, contact a Reference Librarian, opens a new window at your favorite St. Tammany Parish Library branch.