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Current Events: Fake News & Bias

How to Decipher Fake News

Read beyond the headline - What's the whole story? Be wary of outrageous headlines, called "clickbait", are designed to grab your attention, such as ads may disguised as news.

Consider the source -  What's the purpose of the website? Is it objective, impartial, unbiased? Read the "About Us" section to learn about its mission. Look for contact information. Pay attention to the URL; be wary of websites with unusual domains such as .com or .co.

Check the author(s) - Are they real? What are their credentials? What qualifies them as experts on the subject they are writing about?

Check the date - When was the information published? Has it been revised or updated? Some websites repost old news stories .

Check the links - Are they working? Do they take you to other credible websites? Don't trust an article or website with a lot of broken links.

Check the comments - Clickbait stories generate a lot of comment, especially on social media, and many call out the article for being fake or misleading.

Evaluate supporting quotes - Who or what being quoted? Is the source real? Is it credible? Does the information given reinforce the story's claims?

Ask:"Is this a joke?" - Writers often use satire to expose and criticise foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society. Satirical articles are reliable sources for research.

Ask:"Are my own beliefs affecting my judgment?" - Confirmation bias lead people to accept information that confirms their beliefs and ignore information that doesn't. Seek contrasting view points to develop a more well-rounded understanding of the issue.

Conduct a reverse image search - A photo should accurately reflect what the article is about.


EBSCO Connect. (2019). Lesson plan: Spotting fake news and images on the web.

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Media Bias versus Fake News

Media bias: is the bias in journalistic reporting, in news or programming selection and covering, etc., in mass communications media.

Media bias differs from fake news, in that fake news is specifically untrue.

  • Characteristics of media bias:

    • There are different types of media bias such as: political bias, advertising bias, corporate bias, mainstream bias, sensationalism, and concision bias.

    •  Biased sources don't necessarily use lies, they just don't present a whole picture, using only the facts that support their viewpoints. Thus, by using only the facts which were chosen to support their causes or viewpoints, they are giving an incomplete and therefore inaccurate picture.

    • Sensationalism: attention-grabbing , exaggerated, lurid, loud and in a manner to gain audience and notoriety at the expense to accuracy and professionalism.

  • How to detect media bias:

    • Bias by omission - media leaves out one side, or one aspect of a story. This type of bias is often associated with political news stories

    • Who are the sources?

    • From whose point of view is the news reported?

    • Are there double standards?

    • Stereotyping

    • Lack of context

    • Do the headlines and stories match?

    • Lack of diversity

  • What can be done:

    • Use "the round table" approach - an adversarial format in which opposing/diverse views are allowed to be heard and represented.

    • Compare headlines and story content

    • Question the agenda of sources

    • Compare photographs and photo captions to the news stories connected with them

Further reading:


Davis, J. (1990). Beyond the myth of objectivity. Media&Values.(50).

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Fact Checking Sources

Canada Fact Check - an independent news platform dedicated to transparency, democratic reform, government accountability and corporate responsibility.

Snopes - An evidence-based source for fact checking urban legends, folklore, myths, rumours, and misinformation. - A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Monitors the factual accuracy of political speeches, debates, news stories and other communications.

Fact Checker - Put out by the Washington Post, this fact checker focuses on political stories from the United States. - Covers urban legends, Internet rumours, e-mail forwards, and other stories of unknown or questionable origin.

Image Fact Checking

Reverse Image Search

Google Image Search - Have a look at the video on How to Use Google Reverse Image Search to Fact Check Images Video 

Veracity (iPhone app) - Double check image sources and see where they came from.