If you want an opinion that counts, have an informed opinion!
Steps in Fact Checking
1. Check to see if the writer gives credit to the source of information. A good news writer always gives credit to the source of the information. When reporting firsthand witnessed events, the writer will give corroborating details and other sources you can go to in order to check details for accuracy or get additional information. If no credits are given, the news item is suspect and may be fake.
2. Look up the credit(s) and bring your discriminating intelligence to bear upon what you find. Legitimate news credits will provide further credits, details, clarification, and solid corroborating leads and supporting data that you can check for yourself. Fake news credits, on the other hand, lead to dead ends, statements unsupported by evidence, and claims that prove to be false if you take the time to do research. A fake news item may also lead to a spurious website. A spurious website is a website that has many stories but no credits, or fake credits that lead nowhere. In addition, the unsourced news stories are typically highly biased and geared to increase anxiety, paranoia, division, conflict, and allegiance to one person/leader or organization/ideology. They often include accurate facts, but will use them to manipulate thinking with false associations and linking as well as specious arguments and fallacious conclusions.
4. See what fact-checking sources and organizations say about the news item. See the list of some well-known fact checking organizations.
5. Sit back and observe your main news source(s) with a discerning eye. Is your main news source openly objective and fair, with balanced reporting, or is it obviously biased? Does it only present news it agrees with, or does it present all sides and perspectives of an issue? Is it 100% for or against a person or party? Is it respectful and dignified or does it openly disparage individuals or issues? Does it offer partial facts and arrange them to support a bias? Is the reporting superficial or sourced, objective, and complete?
6. Explore other sources of news and see how they each present the news on the same story. This can be quite an eye opener!
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
Abraham Lincoln https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/abraham_lincoln_110340
Fact Checking Sources and Organizations
Here's a rundown [in alphabetical order] of 10 of the top fact- and bias-checking sites to share with your students. (From ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, helping educators around the world use technology to solve tough problems in education. https://www.iste.org/)
AllSides. While not a fact-checking site, AllSides curates stories from right, center and left-leaning media so that readers can easily compare how bias influences reporting on each topic.
Fact Check. This nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by U.S. political players, including politicians, TV ads, debates, interviews and news releases.
Media Matters. This nonprofit and self-described liberal-leaning research center monitors and corrects conservative misinformation in the media.
NewsBusters. A project of the conservative Media Research Center, NewsBusters is focused on “documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.”
Open Secrets. This nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit website run by the Center for Responsive Politics tracks how much and where candidates get their money.
Politifact. This Pulitzer Prize winning website rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials. Run by editors and reporters from the independent newspaper Tampa Bay Times, Politicfact features the Truth-O-Meter that rates statements as “True,” “Mostly True,” “Half True,” “False,” and “Pants on Fire.”
ProPublica. This independent, nonprofit newsroom has won several Pulitzer Prizes, including the 2016 Prize for Explanatory Reporting. ProPublica produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
Snopes. This independent, nonpartisan website run by professional researcher and writer David Mikkelson researches urban legends and other rumors. It is often the first to set the facts straight on wild fake news claims.
The Sunlight Foundation. This nonpartisan, nonprofit organization uses public policy data-based journalism to make politics more transparent and accountable.
Washington Post Fact Checker. Although the Washington Post has a left-center bias, its checks are excellent and sourced. The bias shows up because they fact check conservative claims more than liberal ones.