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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Journalism

Evaluating Sources

Questions to Ask Yourself

Finding information is hardly a challenge in the Google Age. Instead, the challenge is in filtering to efficiently arrive at what is worthwhile. In the book Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload by journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, they suggest asking yourself the following questions (32).

  1. What kind of content am I encountering?
  2. Is the information complete; and if not, what is missing?
  3. Who or what are the sources, and why should I believe them?
  4. What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted?
  5. What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?
  6. Am I learning what I need to?

If you can answer these questions, you will certainly have a very good handle on the credibility and worthiness of whether to include it.

Kovach, Bill, and Rosenstiel, Tom. Blur : How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload. Bloomsbury, 2011.

Analyzing the Authority of Website

Determine who bears the most responsibility for the information.

  • Look for an "About Us" tab or link. If the website does not have "About Us" information on their site, you should think about dismissing it. (Try looking at the top or the bottom footer on the homepage.) If they want to be taken seriously in this day and age, they will be upfront about who they are and the purpose of their website. Determine how long the organization has been around, what their mission is, etc. Why should anyone value their viewpoint?
  • What do others think? Google the name of the organization. See what "the wisdom of the crowds" (or at least the contributors to Wikipedia) are saying about them. What are the odds there isn't a Wikipedia entry about an organization that has worthwhile information to share?
  • Who likes this organization? Google has an interesting feature where you can see who is linking to a particular site. In the Google search box, type link:[url homepage], such as link:www.pnba.org.

"Fake News"

Advice on Spotting Fake News