It’s certainly easy to search for and find news articles online. Some are available at the online “home” of well-known, traditional news publications, or at equally reputable news websites that nevertheless have no print counterpart. Others can be accessed via the research databases on offer at your library. Still others may appear in your social-media feeds, or crop up at sites that “syndicate” content from a variety of sites with varying degrees of reliability or authority.
Though it’s always important to get your news from a reliable source, it’s especially important to students who want or need to use online materials for their research projects. As students seek out these materials, it’s critical that they know how to identify the ones that come from trustworthy sources that are appropriate for their purposes.
With this checklist from Ryan Watkins and Michael Corry’s E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success, Fourth Edition, students can learn how to read and analyze online news and magazine articles with a critical and informed eye. If you use this as an activity for your course (as suggested in the text): have students track down an article from a reliable news website, then ask them to evaluate the article in light of the factors of reliability, quality, and usefulness as listed below, especially as they relate to their current writing or research projects.
Checklist for evaluating online news articles
- Contact information included
- Satisfactory author credentials
- Publication has a respectable reputation
- Sponsoring organization(s) of the author and/or publication are identified
- Blind peer–review process
- Contacted author provided additional information
- Avoids broad generalizations
- Up-to-date resources and references
- Consistency of facts
- Appropriate grammar and spelling
- From an online database
- Avoids bias or one-sided perspectives
- Comprehensive review
- Citations and references are accurate and complete
- Resource is original source
- Support or corroboration of facts
- Relates to your goals
- Relates to your writing or research outline
- Appropriate or similar audience
- Appropriate level of detail for your goals (Watkins and Corry, 72)
Reference: Watkins, Ryan and Corry, Michael. 2014. E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
How do you help students learn to evaluate the information they find online? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments section below!