What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?

20 Feb

One of the benefits of editing a blog with weekly postings is that the work comes with some time for sorting and evaluating other posts, and for weighing the strengths and utility of those posts in curating resources for your own readers.  During the past week, I’ve been mulling and culling sources shared by educators and reporters concerned about how to engage students in navigating news and social media sources with tools for accessing accuracy and evaluating validity. I’ve selected three to share in this post:


All Things Tech writer Wynne Davis provides an overview of the topic in “Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts”, which is accessible as a web page, or a Google document.  Davis’ report provides links to key researchers in this area, and distills the following clear guidelines – with explanatory text – that can be easily drawn into a handout to be shared with students charged with finding and assessing sources:

  1. Pay attention to the domain and URL
  2. Read the “About Us” section
  3. Look at the quotes in a story
  4. Look at who said them
  5. Check the comments
  6. Reverse image search

Analysing Websites: An OpenSource Project

The on-going project of Melissa Zimdarsassistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College, provides a number of tools/resources useful to teachers and learners who are navigating publications and press sites as part of their course work.  Zimdars’ resource – “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources” – opens with tips for analysing the veracity of new sites; more important, the middle section of this document outlines the multiple steps her OpenSources project in analysing sites, and in closing the document sets out, via a succinctly labeled and clearly tabled set up, an accounting of the site that have been analysed.

Doing the Work of Critically Evaluating Information

As the creator, Lindsay Matts-Benson from the University Libraries notes::

Part of the problem with trying to find accurate news on social media is that we are often trapped in a filter bubble of information – meaning that we only read, like, and share things that align with our own belief system. It is important to challenge those beliefs and be more critical of the media we consume and share. Information and media literacy is not just a problem of or a cure for the right or left. It is an essential skill for all of us no matter where we lie on the political spectrum.

The digital, downloadable document offers six overarching tips, with links to specific examples and resources.  The companion video focusing on assessing sources of information may also be of interest to teachers. What follows is a recap of the tips and their linked talking points:

Be critical of images

  • Images are often used in the wrong context to tell a story.
  • Look for “photoshopped” errors, blurriness, pixelation etc.
  • Use Google Reverse Image Search to search for the image source.
  • Search for images of same event from multiple outlets to confirm truthfulness.
  • Screenshots are easily faked.

Investigate the URL/site

  • It is easy to clone a website and get a similar-enough URL to create a fake site.
  • .gov sites aren’t without bias. but do provide a record of the happenings of the government – in theory.
  • Look for bias in the site
  • When in doubt, Google it.

Read beyond the headline

  • Look at multiple headings on the same issue from different sources.
  • Look to see who the article is citing.
  • Who is the news source or social media quoting or retweeting?

Verify the author

  • Most journalists want to claim their writing. If you can’t find an author, be suspicious.
  • View the profile of the tweeter/sharer in question.
  • Being verified on social media doesn’t mean that author is unbiased.

Track down original source

  • Author, quotes, and citations should give you an idea where to find the original source of the information.
  • Search for quotations in Google to check for accuracy.

Watch out for new technologies

  • New technologies will make it harder to identify the real from the fake.

All sources noted in this post have been gathered
into an Evaluating News Sources folder that is downloadable via Google Drive.  

18 Responses to “What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?”


  1. FAKE news and digital literacy… | Maytlind Mallo - 25 March 2019

    […] is reliable or not. Students would be taught how to critically evaluate information as mentioned in What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?. This article mentions six tips that can be used to navigate the news and social media for accuracy […]

  2. Teaching Digital Literacy in ELA A10 | Ms. Anderson's Portfolio - 28 March 2019

    […] particular outcome provides the perfect opportunity to share “What’s news: Fake, false, misleading, clickbait, satire, or carefully reported?” If students are hitting the internet to collect information on an inquiry topic, it is vital […]

  3. Fake News – Megan Moore - 9 April 2019

    […] and having thoughtful and challenging conversations. We can do so by encouraging youth to ask questions about the information they are engaging with, such […]

  4. Fake news and digital literacy | Miss. Brooke George - 7 June 2019

    […] What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?, article that Katia shared talks about different things to look for when deciding if something we are […]

  5. Thinking Critically about News – Teaching Biology - 10 June 2019

    […] journal the article is published in. You should do the same thing for News reports as explained in Techniques in Teaching and Learning. If the article is coming from an obscure news source or scientific journal then most likely it is […]

  6. Digital Literacy and Fake News: How Do We Teach This? (Week 11) | Regan Stromich - 1 April 2020

    […] What’s news: Fake, false, misleading, clickbait, satire, or carefully reported? […]

  7. Considering Digital Literacy in the Elementary Classroom 🤔 – Rashelle Parcher - 1 April 2020

    […] Another source suggests the following tactics to identifying fake news on websites:  […]

  8. Digital Literacy and Fake News | Britney Savage – Secondary Educator - 8 April 2020

    […] What’s news: Fake, false, misleading, clickbait, satire, or carefully reported? […]

  9. Digital Literacy – Richelle's Education Blog - 9 April 2020

    […] Educators can also integrate digital literacy like how Treaty Education is integrated with other subjects. For example, the category  Finding and Verifying – the skill to validate a website or a source of information. When students are researching for an essay or project they must find valid information that will help their assignments. Educators can easily teach this skill in English, Social Studies, and science classes. There are many resources that teachers and students can use to use as reference to test a website such as this blog post, What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported? […]

  10. George Washington had wooden teeth? - 15 April 2020

    […] What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported? […]

  11. Digital Literacy Has Got Me Thinking – An Educational Journey - 11 June 2020

    […] literacy I found the use of many different terms that came up in multiple resources. The term fake news came up in class and again in many articles. I recall when the term started to become popular and I […]

  12. What are you consuming? – Lifelong Learner - 11 June 2020

    […] checklists sometimes take the form of an acronym (RADCAP and CARS). Students need to be given is clear guidelines in becoming better consumers of information. Although this is a great start, there is so much more […]

  13. Title caught your eye? Triggered your emotions? It could be a clickbait article | Ms. Steele's Education Journey - 16 June 2020

    […] and facts they find. This could be done by using a checklist for things to look out for, as is found here. This blog post breaks down what you should do when you find a new source, from investigating the […]

  14. Tools For The Classroom – Lifelong Learner - 19 June 2020

    […] What’s news: Fake, false, misleading, clickbait, satire, or carefully reported?  […]

  15. Teaching digital literacy in the classroom – Ms. Moat's Educational Journey - 23 June 2020

    […] like the first article chosen, this last one, What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?, gives us a list of things we can do to prevent falling for fake news and click bait, list […]

  16. Digital Literacy: Fake News Ruining the Web – Logan Fettes' Teaching Journey - 19 November 2020

    […] Dawn, I. (2020, February 20). What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?Retrieved from Tilt: https://uminntilt.com/2017/02/20/news-fake-false-misleading-clickbait-satire-or-carefully-reported/ […]

  17. THE WORLD OF DIGITAL LITERACY AND FAKE NEWS! – MitchellASmith - 6 April 2021

    […] literacy and educating ourselves what the truth is and what is not the truth. In the article, What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported? There are six things to keep in mind in order to find out what is true or untrue with fakes […]

  18. Fake News and Misleading Graphs: Digital Literacy in Mathematics – Haley Begrand - 7 April 2021

    […] This article gives some tips for evaluating and assessing the validity of sources: […]

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