How to Fact Check a News Story

How to Fact Check a News Story

( – With the advent of social media and the viral nature of some stories, verifying a news story has become a critical skill to find out whether the information is accurate. Some news platforms “spin” information, making it seem like a story says something that’s not the truth. So what steps can you take to find the truth? We have a few suggestions.

Question Everything

Even though it may sound exhausting, make a habit of questioning the veracity of everything you read or see from media and social media sources. You might approach your investigation with the same sorts of basic questions that the original reporters might have: you want to find out who, what, where, when, why and how with as little bias as possible. You might also want to investigate what information, if any, was omitted.

Choose Fact-Checking Sites Carefully

One of the most important ways to check news stories is to use sites that are specifically designed to provide fact-checking. These include both political and non-political options. You want to look for a site that considers “just the facts” and doesn’t take a conservative or liberal stance on issues. The same is true with news sites, as you want to choose sites that are centered around information, not bias. By filtering which sources you use for verification, you can reduce the chances of finding false information, or finding opinion and misinformation disguised as fact. That said, consider using multiple sources to verify facts and stories to help eliminate bias.

Consider the Context

Sometimes, information is taken out of context. That can make it seem like someone has an opinion they don’t really hold. By using only a snippet of an interview, for example, it can look like a person said something that doesn’t tell the whole story. In today’s technological world, it’s also easy to cut pieces of information and put them together. Then it looks like someone answered a question that wasn’t asked, or gave a specific response that might have been given to a different question. Understanding context is crucial to fact-checking news stories.

Trace Your Way Back to the Primary Sources

If possible, going back to the original, or primary, source of the information is the best way to find out if something is factual and accurate. Many credible news stories cite their sources or discuss where they received their information from. By doing that, they provide a “paper trail” that can be used by fact-checkers.

Primary sources, if contacted, can confirm whether quotes or information are accurate. In some cases, reaching out to the source may clear up an issue faster than other options. As news consumers, we may not have that option available, but drilling back through the reference sources as far as possible may help confirm facts or statements.

No matter what kind of story you want to verify, there are almost always options. Be a skeptic, then carefully choose fact-checking sites, consider context, and even ask the primary source of the information so you can be an informed news consumer. Whether you’re aiming to understand political, health or many other news aspects, getting to the bottom of issues can be an excellent way to formulate more accurate opinions and make choices to benefit your life.

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