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Course & Subject Guides


Use this guide to become a fact checker! Evaluate your sources and your facts!

Looking at a News Story

Questions to ask yourself when you hear or read a news story, even those in legitimate news sources:

  • Is this a breaking news story?
    If so, the journalist may be rushing to judgment. Wait to see if the story changes over time.
  • Can you find confirmation in other sources?
    If you can find the same information from a variety of sources, it's probably sound.
  • Do you understand the science?
    In many instances, reporters and journalists don't understand the science on which they are reporting. They tend to sensationalize parts and not give an accurate representation of the scientific facts.
  • Does the story play on your emotions?
    Sometimes tugging on your emotions can sway your opinion. Try to keep emotion out of your fact gathering efforts.

How to Evaluate Information

On June 26, 2017, the hacker group Anonymous said that they had evidence that NASA was planning an announcement on alien life. The claim was that NASA had proof of life beyond Earth, and NASA would have a news conference later in the day. Many reputable sources, such as Newsweek, published this story as if Anonymous' claims were true. However, whenever you hear something this extreme, your #CheckYourFacts spidey senses should start tingling. NASA refuted the claims, and Anonymous' claims were debunked.

Remember when you read a story, look around for additional confirmation. When a story is "breaking," keep an eye open for updates that may refute or change the initial claim.

Annotated image of a Newsweek story that NASA was going to announce evidence of alien life