Guided Research Worksheet
How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps
produced by ProQuest
Beware fake or misleading news.; Be skeptical.; Ask Questions.; Verify.; It's up to you.
Select "yes" or "no" to the following questions. The more thumbs-down icons you select (no), the more likely the news article is fake.
1. Do a Visual Assessment
Assess the overall design. Fake news sites often look amateurish, have lots of annoying as, and use altered or stolen images.
Overall, does the news article and website seem high quality?
2. Identify the News Outlet
The Wall Street Journal and CNN are examples of news outlets. If you haven't heard of the news outlet, search online for more information.
Is the news outlet well known, well respected, and trustworthy?
3. Check the Web Domain
Many fake news URLs look odd or end with .com.co or .lo (e.g., abcnews.com.co) to mimic legitimate news sites.
Does the URL seem legitimate?
4. Check the About Us Section
Trustworthy news outlets usually include detailed background information, policy statements, and email contacts in the About/About Us section.
Does the site provide detailed background information and contacts?
5. Identify the Author
Fake news articles often don't include author names. If included, search the author's name online to see if he or she is well known and respected.
Does the article have a trusted author?
6. Identify the Central Message
Read the article carefully. Fake news articles often push one viewpoint, have an angry tomes, or make outrageous claims.
Does the article seem fair, balanced, and reasonable?
7. Assess Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation
If the article has misspelled words, words in ALL CAPS, poor grammar, or lots of "!!!!," it's probably unreliable.
Does the article have proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation?
8. Analyze Sources and Quotes
Consider the article's sources and who is quoted. Fake news articles often cite anonymous sources, unreliable sources, or no sources at all.
Does the article include and identify reliable sources?
9. Find Other Articles
Search the internet for more articles on the same topic. If you can't find any, chances are the story is fake.
Are there multiple articles by other news outlets on this topic?
10. Turn to Fact Checkers
FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, PolitiFact.com are widely trusted fact-checking websites.
Do the fact checkers say the news story is true?
Based on your research, do you think the article is more likely to be true or false? Explain.
Worksheet adapted from several sources, including Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College. ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.