Finding Trustworthy News​

Many students are doing their own research about the COVID-19 outbreak, and as we all know there is a lot of information out there—and not all of it is credible. 


How can students discern what is news and what is utter nonsense?



Media Bias Chart

Have them start with the Media Bias Chart. This fantastic resource helps them find out which sources are the most reliable and neutral in their reporting. Teach them to look at the links they follow and begin to recognize the names of the reliable news outlets as well as the most notorious biased sources. (Helpful for all of us adults too!)


Below is information from a blog I wrote in 2018 about determining credible sources when searching on Google.



Google Searches and Discerning Credibility

Especially with younger students, I notice a tendency not to think critically about the web sites they choose to click. They will search for their topic and just start clicking on anything. Often, this means they end up on someone's blog or another student's school project that has a public setting so anyone can see it. 


When I notice this happening, I point out to them that they need to pay attention to the web site address. Recently when I was helping a student, she clicked on a site that had "prezi" in the URL. Prezi is a software company that helps users create presentations, and the site she clicked on had been created by another student.


I show them that the URL will show up on the Google search page in green and that they should read that first before clicking. Here is an example of a search I did for Andrew Carnegie and industrialization:





This image illustrates the issue perfectly. The first link is a web site someone create on Google Sites. We don't know the author or if the information is credible. The second link is to Bartleby Writing, a site that posts students' essays to give users "thought starters to jump-start" their own paper; not a great start for research. The third link is another Prezi page. 


It isn't until the fourth link that we find something credible, the site. Google algorithms are what create the rankings for these pages, but many students assume that the first link is going to be the most credible, so we have to wean them from this idea. 


So what are credible sources?



List of Credible Sources and Other Resources

I like this University of Maryland page on determining credibility. It mentions paying attention to the source of the information, the date (if current information is crucial), the author of the text, and the web domain address. 


Here is a brief list of sources I recommend to students:


Google Scholar



Library of Congress


Here are some links with even more sources:


Common Sense Education Top Picks


EasyBib's Guide to Finding Sources




Photo by Sarah Boudreau on Unsplash