47 Fake News Signals: Part 5 of 7

CLUES FROM THE PUBLISHER

36. REPUTATION. Is the writer’s reputation at stake if they are wrong? Does the organization risk loss of reputation or loss of finances if it becomes known for having promoted false news?  

37. RELIABILITY. Has the organization been reliable in the past? Have you read other information from the organization was confirmed to be accurate? 

38. AMATEURISH. Data collected by an amateur is more error-prone than data collected by a professional scientist. Does a quick web search confirm whether the people who collected and organized the data have a good track record of collecting and distributing data.

39. RESPONSE TO CRITICS. Does the publisher respond publicly to its critics when there are reasonable questions? Does it acknowledge when the critics have a point?

40. DATA SOURCES. Look closely at the sources of data the publisher uses: is this material provided by for-profit companies, partisan organizations, or advocacy groups? While it is possible the material is accurate, data from groups with agendas require greater scrutiny than data from nonpartisan organizations. 

41. PAYING THE WRITERS. Content Farms (or Content Mills, if you like) pay very little in return for lots of writing. When news writers are focused on cracking out material to feed the beast, the quality of the work suffers. If you discover a site is considered a Content Farm by professionals or pays writers very little for their work, that’s a big red flag.

42. DIVERSE VOICES. Does the news organization offer diverse perspectives in its articles? A professional outlet will make a concerted effort to give voice to various ethnicities and political persuasions. The more a newsroom focuses on a single viewpoint the greater the likelihood it will leave out significant perspectives from its news converge. 

43. FEEDBACK. Reputable news publishers want readers’ feedback on stories for accuracy and look for help in determining coverage priorities.  

44. AGREEMENT. Do you find yourself agreeing with everything your preferred news outlet says? If so, something is wrong. Find a commentator whose politics don’t match with your own—vary your media consumption to get a balance of perspectives.

45. EASY STORIES. If news outlet overlooks stories worth telling in favor of the stories that can be easily told, it may not have the resources to dive into investigative reporting or may not have the goal of getting beyond low-hanging fruit.

CLUES FROM OUTSIDE THE SITE

46. YOUR COMMUNITY. There’s no substitute for knowing people who are well-informed and will let you know when you’ve posted something questionable. These are people you can ask when you have your doubts. Don’t know any experts researchers, or information junkies from various fields who are critical and helpful? Make some new friends! Developing such a support system is critical for navigating effectively through life. Read some books written by experts.  

47. FACT-CHECKING SITES. Does a fact-checking site identify the assertion of the article as a hoax? Check one of the sites listed at the end of this article or type the topic of the article into a search engine and add “hoax” or “fake.”   

Fake News Signals: Part 1 of 7

Fake News Signals: Part 2 of 7

Fake News Signals: Part 3 of 7 

Fake News Signals: Part 4 of 7

Fake New Signals: Part 6 of 7

Fake New Signals: Part 7 of 7