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FAKE NEWS vs. REAL NEWS: How to Determine the Reliability of Sources

Learn about the credibility of news.

Use the CRAP Test

With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is challenging is determining whether that information is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?

A Google search is often our first stop to gain a basic understanding of the main ideas about a topic, but since anyone with access to a computer can publish anything online, it is crucial that you evaluate the information you find, especially when completing a research paper, or looking for important information (like health or financial information).

Web sources can be particularly hard to evaluate, so we've developed this handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAP.

 

C Is it CURRENT? R Is it RELIABLE? A Who is the AUTHORITY? P What is the PURPOSE/POV?

 

  • CURRENCY How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
  • RELIABILITYIs the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
  • AUTHORITYWho wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it? For science information, did a scientist or researcher write it?)
  • PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEWWhy was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?

For more  information, check out this article by NPR journalist Steve Inskeep called, "A Finder's Guide to Facts": http://www.npr.org/2016/12/11/505154631/a-finders-guide-to-facts

Quick guide to popular sources

Where information comes from is important. No news site is unbiased, but some do a better job trying to balance facts and opinions. 

Where do you get your information from?

Otero's graphic representation of news media-conservative to liberal

Why check for accuracy?