5 Easy Ways to Fact Check News Stories
News headlines tend to stretch the truth a little bit. They’re meant to sell papers or draw clicks to a website, which means they’re not always as accurate as they could be. The more important issue, however, comes when the content of the story isn’t reliable. The internet is vast, and that means that anyone can make something up and attempt to pass it off as news, even though it’s complete fiction. How do you make sure that what you’re reading is correct, so you’re not misleading other people when you tell them about it? Here are some tips to make sure that you only believe the right information.
Look at the site publishing the source
Sometimes, gossip sites will publish things and attempt to pass them off as real news, even though the information they have is shaky at best. There are also parody news sources, which create news stories that they present as real, but are generally so outlandishly ridiculous that it’s easy to tell when they’re fake. Then, there are opinion sites that might incorrectly present themselves as factual news sources, even though they’re only publishing their opinions on the current news. Lastly, and thankfully, there are reputable news sites that have correspondents and can provide reliable information.
For all of these, your best bet is going to be to check their “About” page. You can usually a link to it in the footer of the website, though you might have to hunt around a bit. If the “About” page discloses that it’s opinion-based, a parody site, or based on gossip, you shouldn’t trust it too much.
Check whether the article cites academic sources
A reputable news site will provide evidence to back up any claims they make. If they’re reporting on a new scientific study, they’ll include a link to the study before breaking it down for their readers. If they have information on a governmental announcement, they should provide a link to the official announcement. If they have a correspondent, as most genuine news sites do, they should give information about their correspondents on other pages of their website, and note that they got the information from a correspondent. The lack of any of these is cause for suspicion.
Look at what other news sites are saying
If it’s a big enough story, other news outlets will be reporting on the same event. Whether it’s a significant governmental change or just a Facebook announcement, more than one site will put out a story about it if it’s making an impact. If there’s a significant discrepancy between your news source and multiple others, you might be looking at a site that’s stretching the truth a little bit too much. If it’s about a live event, such as a speech, other sites should have a video or audio recording of it, so you can see and hear it for yourself instead of relying on the news outlet’s blurbs.
Do some research on the writers
Even on a reputable news source, a writer can have their own agenda, and might stretch the truth at times to fit what they want to write about. If the site lists the writer, you might be able to do your own homework on them. Try searching them on a search engine, or better yet, do an online people search! PeopleFinders can help you get the information you need about anyone, even journalists and writers for online news sites. With their people search feature, you can find a substantial amount of information on them, and the public records search can turn up things like their party affiliation, which can have a significant impact on their reporting. It’s an additional step you can take to make completely certain that what you’re seeing is reliable.
With the extent to people publish news on the internet, it can feel difficult or even impossible to distinguish between reliable news and gossip presented as news. There are ways to figure out which one you’re looking at, though, and to make sure you only spread real, verifiable information to your friends and family. One of the best methods is to do some research on the people writing the articles, and the easiest way to do that is to use PeopleFinders. Don’t take any chances when it comes to the stories that help you understand the world!
Categorized in: News