• Michael Weinberg

How to Find Reliable News

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

During unsettling times caused by developments such as a global movement or pandemic, it's incredibly important to keep up with current events. No matter what kind of news is popping up on your social media feeds, you’re going to want to make sure it’s accurate and reliable. “Fake news” has infected our Facebook and Twitter accounts along with our day-to-day text messages. The problem is that a majority of individuals will glance over an article shared by someone utilizing their platform to take a stance, failing to check the actual factuality of the article's content. Let’s take a look at some ways you can ensure that you’re feeding your brain with real news.

Use the CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test, developed by Sarah Blakeslee of the University of California, is a tool that can help you sort out the real news from the junk. It can also be used to check the reliability of sources for university papers.

“CRAAP” is an acronym for “Currency,” “Relevance,” “Authority,” “Accuracy,” and “Purpose.”

Currency refers to how recent the article is. When trying to back up a claim with a news article, make sure that the article is relatively recent, because information can be disproved as time goes on.

When NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash in January, TMZ news was the first to report on the incident. However, the preliminary articles were full of misinformation about how many victims there were in the accident. Years from now, if someone is seeking factual evidence regarding Bryant's death, referring to TMZ's old articles would be a mistake.

Relevance refers to how topical the article in question is to the claim. Sometimes, an article’s headline can be quite misleading, and the content itself may potentially disprove the claim.

The Washington Times published an article in 2013 with the headline “Take it to the bank: Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to raise the minimum wage to $22 per hour.” The headline, however, refers to what she said about how high the minimum wage would be today if it increased with productivity. The article includes her actual quote, but misleads the reader with a provocative headline, thus making it irrelevant to an argument about Warren wanting to increase the minimum wage to $22.

Authority refers to the reporter or author of the article. A reliable article should be written by someone with the credentials to speak on a given subject. Do a small background check of the author the next time you read an article you’re unsure of. You can Google the names of authors and check out their articles, areas of expertise, and past career points.

Accuracy refers to if the information in an article is straight-up correct or not. The only way to appropriately check the precision of the information you are being fed is by carrying out a search for the same information elsewhere. Oftentimes, it is the utmost priority of news outlets to relay information to the public quickly, failing to allow time for thorough fact-checking, so you’ll want to check that outlet’s reliability using the previous methods.

A fact-checker that I recently encountered is the Associated Press Fact Check, which I follow on Twitter. While this resource may not let you find the information you want when you want it, it can keep you aware of the misinformation that has been circulating.

Purpose refers to the intentions behind an article. Some articles are meant to persuade or entertain, but a reliable news article should have an informative purpose, meaning it will not allow room for bias. However, bias does not automatically disprove a source. Being aware of bias is important so that you can form your own opinions and decisions.

The AllSides Media Bias Chart can be a helpful tool when determining the most neutral, and therefore unbiased, news sources.

A Healthy Balance of Information

We can all agree that 2020 has been a turbulent and historical year. With that said, being informed means you can better understand the current events taking place and what it takes to overcome them.

I came to the conclusion recently that I was not as informed on current events as I should have been, so I started following news organizations on Twitter. These include Associated Press, National Public Radio, and Time, which offer national and global stories.

Having access to multiple varied sources of information is healthy and necessary. When someone on your timeline makes a claim, don’t be quick to approve or disprove it without real evidence to back it up. Use the media bias chart to start your search, or find other sources and use the CRAAP Test. Then, you can go back to your social media and post a reliable article for your followers to partake in the sharing of reliable information.

You can also find a helpful list of fact-checking websites compiled by the University of California, Berkeley here.

The world is rich with knowledge, and historical events occur every hour of each day. While you shouldn’t be glued to the screen 24/7, you should keep up a healthy balance of reliable information. The more information people have the better chance of them understanding each other.

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