It is challenging to evaluate information in the media, with so many sources of news and so many opinions. How can you decide if what you are reading is true? Here are a few questions to try to answer that can help guide your thinking.
1. Where did the information come from? Can you find the name of the individual or organization who published the information? Who paid for it? If the information is anonymous, that calls into question its reliability, because it means the author isn’t willing to stand by their words.
2. Is this source reliable and qualified? Once you know who wrote or said the information, you can evaluate that source for reliability. Do they have some special training or knowledge that qualifies them to speak on the subject? If it is a journalist, are they an eyewitness or did they speak to eyewitnesses? Do they cite their sources? If the author is giving an opinion or evaluation, do they have education and experience in that field? Has the person’s writing proven reliable in the past?
3. Can I confirm the information from another trusted source? Much of the information we’re reading hasn’t been seen or heard just once. Can you find another writer, journalist, or the like who has the same information, preferably from their own eyewitness account or speaking to different eyewitnesses? Do they have a track record of reliability?
4. Can I detect bias? It can be challenging to identify bias; we all have a natural inclination to trust what we already believe ourselves. Try to suspend your own beliefs and see if you can determine the beliefs of the writer. Can you tell if they have an opinion on the subject? Do they use emotional words? Are they describing an event or trying to persuade you to believe their perception of the event? If it’s political, can you tell which party the writer is in?
I hope these questions help guide you in being a discerning reader or viewer. If you need help finding credible sources for school work, please reach out to us at email@example.com!