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Integrating Media Literacy into the Classroom: Fact Checking

This guide will focus on fake news, fact checking and search tips for the web..

Evaluating Websites

To help determine of you are looking at a credible website use this checklist to ask questions about the website. If you can't find the answers to most of these questions, then it may be best to look for another website. 

Who:  The source of the information

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author, source or publisher?
  • Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
  • Is there contact information, address, or email?

What:  The information fits your research need

Ask yourself:

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the best one to use?

When:  The information is up to date

Ask yourself:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Where:  The information is honest and accurate

Ask yourself:

  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or by your own knowledge?
  • Are you able to fact check the information?

Why:  The reason the information was published

Ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • To inform? To teach? To sell? To persuade?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Does the website address reveal anything about the website?

According to the report of the survey results (American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy, published in early 2018), more than two-thirds (68%) share information with people who hold views similar to theirs. Fewer than a third (29%) do so with those who hold differing views.

What Can You Do?

Be Informed, Not Influenced

  • Investigate your sources (Snopes, Politifact,,

  • Become familiar with fact based news sources

  • Learn to recognize your own biases

  • Stop and compare sources or stories before sharing especially if strong emotions are involved

Classroom Activity

2) Decoding Media Bias

Another exercise I use in the library is based off of this lesson plan. I pass out three different colored strips of paper. I tell students with the yellow slip that they are examining Fox News website. Students with the purple slip are asked to examine MSNBC News website. Students with the pink slip are asked to examine Associated Press News website. I tell them to read the headlines and look at the top stories, tone of the writing and point of view. 

After a few minutes of individual examination I tell them to form groups. Each group must be have one of each of the hree colored slips (so a purple, yellow and pink). I pass out the handout and ask them to share what they learned with their group mates, compare the news sites and answer the questions. At the end we go through the questions as a class. 

A few notes. Every time you do this the headlines will be different. Some days the headlines work better than others.