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So you’re confronted with a news story set to throw you into a panic:


Or you’ve come across a website you think is perfect to use in a paper in the first hit on the Google list.

So what do you do?

Do you send it to all your friends? Post an angry message? Start a protest?

Assume it’s OK to use for your paper?

Before you do any of that start out by evaluating the website. You’ve probably heard about different evaluation systems like Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.

Ask Yourself

But before you get that far you can check a few basic things. Let’s try it for this Peanut Butter Reese’s Cup story I linked to above.

  1. Does it seem likely? Does what you already know about the situation (i.e. that Reese’s Peanut Butter cups are so popular they are available in multiple sizes) make sense with this story?
  2. What are other sources saying about it? Do an internet search for the title of the article or the name of the website it’s on.
  3. What is it saying about itself? Check out the homepage of the Breaking News 365 website.
  4. Read the paragraph below where Snopes points out things that should raise a red flag about this story. Look for them.

“Setting aside the fact that the manufacturer of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups has not announced the demise of the product, the article bears some of the hallmarks of fake news: the manufacturer is not named; no location is given for the press conference; no representative of the company is named; a quote purportedly taken from a press conference is not attributed to anyone; and the article is poorly written, featuring inappropriate exclamation marks, missing words, and grammatical mistakes. ”


Next Time

So the next time you are confronted with a story that outrages you, makes you panic, or it’s the only place you see information you want to use in your paper, stop, breathe, read it closely, think about it, and see what other people are saying.

Sarah Uthoff is a reference library at Kirkwood Community College. LIKE the Kirkwood Community College Library on Facebook and find links to Sarah all over the web at her About Me Profile.