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News Literacy: Evaluating Content

Evaluating Content

Websites, especially those claiming to be news sites, should be evaluated for their content. Here will will examine articles from three news sites, including a reputable site, a biased site, and a satire site. When evaluating these new sites think about these quick tips:

  • What are their articles about?

  • Does the content of the article match the headline?

  • Does the article push a particular agenda?

  • Does the article draw information from reputable sources?

  • Who are the authors, and what do we know about them?

Evaluating The Content

NPR covers a variety of different topics from medical to climate change, politics to psychology. We're going to take a look at a story that was reported in February 2017, on the A1C blood sugar test used to detect diabetes.

  • Reading through the article the reader can see that the story clearly matches the advertised headline.

  • This article is written in a manner to inform the public of recent findings in regards to the A1C medical test, while remaining unbiased about the topic.

  • This article draws on information from the original study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), as well as information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a government website, among others.

  • The author of this news story, Richard Harris, is clearly stated at the beginning of the article, and when we click on his name we are provided some information on his credentials; and he appears to be knowledgeable in this field.

American News provides articles on breaking news, political news, and updates, according to Google. Here we will examine their website in general, as well as an article titled "Ivanka Trump In Serious Trouble, This Isn't Good."

  • This site seems to provide only "breaking news," and does not provide an About page or any information about the organization. 
  • While the content of our article relates to the headline, the headline itself is very vague and gives no indication of what the article is about. Rather than being informative this headline is clearly intended to grab the readers attention with gossip-style wording. This is a big red flag! Responsible journalism does not use this tactic.
  • The article has been written as a gossip piece with no outside sources cited within or following the article.
  • Quotations within the article are provided by vague parties such as "a spokesperson" or "the company."
  • We have no author information; all articles are written by "American News."

Screenshot: American News

The New Republic is a progressive news site which, as stated in their About page, "takes a stance" on complex issues. Here we're looking at an article addressing the issue of charter schools, and examining their benefits for African American students. 

  • In its examination of whether or not charter schools are good or bad for African American students, the article provides information from both sides of the argument

  • The headline for the article is informative and clearly pertains to the content of the article.

  • While this article appears to provide an unbiased story, we are aware of the mission of the news organization as a whole, so we must take that into consideration when using this article as a source.

  • Many of the sources that the author has drawn information from are other news sites, including NPR and The Atlantic. In addition, the author has directed us to The Brookings Institute, a non-profit public policy organization, which conducted a study on segregation, race, and charter schools. From this site we can access the original study which was made available in October 2016.

  • The New Republic does not provide any author information, instead we are taken to a list of his other work published in the New Republic. We could consider conducting a search for this writer outside of this news site.

The Onion provides satirical news articles on various subjects, designed to entertain the reader. Here we are looking at an article a supposed study that claims that the majority of humans are happiest when their family is asleep.

  • The article makes wild statements about "all demographic groups," including percentages not supported by any outside sources.
  • The content of this article matches the headline, however it is clear that this is written for entertainment's sake.
  • The article does not cite any sources for the included statistics and statements, or supposed study.
  • We have no stated author for this article.

The New York Times covers a variety of topics and its writers come from a variety of backgrounds, with expertise from business to environment, medical to political, world news to food, and more. Here we have an article on an Antarctic ice shelf and the recent changes that have been observed.

  • Looking at the story, we can see that the headline is informative and summarizes what the article is about.

  • The article is written to be informative to the general public, and does not push an agenda; the author remained unbiased throughout the article.

  • While reading through this article we can see that the author has pulled information from reputable sources such as the National Snow and Ice Data Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The authors sources of information include scientists within the field of glaciology, as seen in our in-text quotation. 

  • In this case we do not have author information. Selecting the author's name will direct us to a list of other articles he has published in the NYT. To know more about the author we will need to conduct outside research. However, the NYT upholds itself to a high level of standards and ethics, as such they are a widely-trusted news source.