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Fake News

How to Identify and Avoid Fake News

While it is tempting to call biased news "fake", there are some important differences.  Fake news is without basis or fact.  Biased news presents facts, but does so selectively and/or with language that sensationalizes. Almost all writing has some form of implicit bias, but the best researchers and journalists strive to acknowledge and eliminate bias in their own work. When reading news, look for signs of bias, and work to identify where an author may have omitted or skewed information or data. Learning to identify bias is important so you can get to the facts and evaluate the information for yourself.

What is bias?

Bias is a particular inclination toward or preconceived notion of an idea or a person.

Journalists and other media specialists often rely on bias to sway our opinions and decisions.

"Bias" does not necessarily equal "untrue." It simply means that the article or video offers a skewed perspective.

Omission: Failing to report facts that tend to disprove an opposing viewpoint.

Story Selection: Sharing statistics, stories, or other information that support only one viewpoint, while ignoring those stories that support other viewpoints.

Placement: Prominently placing news stories that support one viewpoint in order to overshadow stories that support another.

Selection of Sources: Including more sources (sometimes called “experts” or “observers”) in a story who support one view over another.

Spin: Highlighting aspects of an issue favorable to one viewpoint without noting aspects favorable to other viewpoints.


Tagging one individual or group with extreme labels, while not tagging others 

Applying terms such as “expert" to individuals or groups without providing information on their background or ideological slant.  

To help identify bias in the media, ask yourself the following questions:

Who is the author/reporter/organization presenting the information?

Who are the sources being quoted?

From what point of view is the information presented?

Does the author/reporter/organization use stereotypes?

Does the article or video include unchallenged assumptions?

Does the headline match the story?

Is there loaded or extreme language?

Is information presented with context?