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News Literacy


A 2016 Stanford study showed that 80% of students could not tell the difference between an ad and a news story. According to BuzzFeed News, false stories outperformed real political news over the final months of the election. The Oxford Dictionaries even selected post-truth as the Word of the Year 2016.

False news ranges from stories invented merely to grab attention, to propaganda, to hoaxes. Images may be edited or used in ways intended to mislead. Untrue or biased stories may be created for political purposes or for profit.

In the age of social media where anyone can write something and stories spread quickly, it's up to each of us to take the time to critique the news. According to, these are some good steps to determining whether a news story is credible. (Credit also to

  1. Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.

  2. Read beyond the headline. Headlines can be outrageous in effort to get clicks. Go beyond headlines.

  3. Check the author. Do a quick Google search on the author. Are they credible?

  4. Determine if sources support the story. Click those links. Determine if the subsequent info actually supports the story.

  5. Check the date.

  6. Consider that it 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. Check your biases.

  8. Ask the experts. Ask a librarian, or consult one of the fact-checking sites outlined below.

More on Evaluating News

Use Fact-Checking Websites

Use these sites to determine if a story is true or false or somewhere in between.

Use the Library

Staff at the library are trained in how to evaluate information. Ask us for help in person, by phone, email or chat.

If you want to research a topic, start with library resources for credible, published articles from magazines, newspapers and other publications. Remember it's still important to be aware of bias and opinion.

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