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Evaluating Information: Home

Resources for librarians to use to equip students and the general public to identify reliable sources of news and other information.

Scope

Misleading information published as news is not new to the 21st century.  In the late 19th century we called it "yellow journalism," and its practitioners used sensational headlines and outright fraudulent stories to increase sales. Today, with increasing reliance on both digital news outlets and social media for news, sifting through the messages for non-biased sources requires attention, and possibly reviewing multiple sources--including seeking out a reliable original source. This guide covers:

  • tips from ALA and our member libraries for assessing the validity of information, whether a news item or a web page,
  • professional references to information literacy standards and tools, and
  • style guides for citing sources.

ALA Policy Statements

ALA Toolkits and Programming

Toolkits and Guides from the Field

Library Response

Fact Checking Sites

Summary of tips

  1. Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.
  2. Read past the headline. Headlines can be outrageous in effort to get clicks. Go beyond headlines.
  3. Assess the credibility of the author. Do a quick Google search on the author. What is their expertise? What organization do they represent?
  4. Look at the links and sources supporting the article. Click those links. Determine if the subsequent information supports the story. Consider the reliability of the sources.
  5. Check the date.
  6. Consider that the item might be satire. If it seems too outlandish, it might be satire. Do some quick research on the site and author to find out.
  7. Consider that it might be promotional. Is the purpose of the site to sell a product?
  8. Check your biases.
  9. Search other news outlets to see if the news is widely reported.

Librarian

Karen Muller's picture
Karen Muller
Contact:
ALA Library
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433 x5031