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Identify and Evaluate Sources

101 help to identify types of sources and evaluate them

Strategies to be a critical thinker when reading the news begins with understanding that...

Editorials, articles, opinion pieces, community contributions, advertisements, affiliates, and columns are each written for a different purpose. It is up to you determine if the author wants to entertain, persuade, or inform. Example, correlating information

The terms below can help you start thinking about how information can be manipulated to suit a purpose.

For a full collection of articles and chapters on this topic, see the reading list, "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data" created by professors from the University of Washington

Media Bias

With so many news worthy events happening around the world, news producers omit topics and facts from publication. So the news you read has been filtered based on someone else's perception of importance.

To counter Media Bias, seek out information with multiple view points such as round tables and debates. Find the information form several sources and seek out the primary sources.

Allen, Steven. (2015). Medial bias: 8 types. Capital Research Center. 

Fake news

Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically.


Censorship is the deliberate exclusion of information. Associated with political interference of state media that restricts the freedom of the news outlets to report on certain topics.

Internet censorship limits people's ability to access information resulting in selective exposure to information.  

Post Truth

Post Truth is "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief".

To spot Post Truth in news articles, be on the lookout for repetition of slogans or talking points instead of facts, figures, and data. 

Gore, W. (2016). In a post-truth world here's how to spot politicians fact dodging. Independent

Selective Exposure Theory

Individuals select information that confirms and reinforces preconceived ideas. Many scholarly articles demonstrate how the selection of information can impact people's beliefs of political ideas, health information, and stereotypes.

Alternative Facts

These are false statements made to seem like truth. They are usually politically motivated

Backfire Effect

When you present someone with the truth - the harder they reject it.


Propaganda is "persuasion in bad faith". Information can be purposefully inaccurate, with one sided arguments intended to trigger large scale action.

Spot propaganda by understanding the 7 types of propaganda: name calling, card stacking, bandwagon, generalities, testimony, transfer, and plain folks. Ask yourself these questions to find out if your information is propaganda.

Anceschi, L. (2014). Regime-building, identity-making and foreign policy. The journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity.

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