How can kids figure out what's credible news and what's fake news?

Fake news has gotten a lot of attention. Even the term has earned several definitions. The quantity and types of news sources in the digital age have made it more challenging to determine what's real and what's fake. Reputable news outlets adhere to a code of ethical standards that ensures that what's being reported is true to the best of their knowledge. They publish their codes of ethics and standards on their websites. You can read the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics to get a sense of the rules reporters must follow.

Of course, a lot of times, figuring out what's real and what's fake comes down to whom you trust and why. Some people distrust traditional news organizations (what they call the "mainstream media") and prefer newer voices. Some people choose to trust the news outlets they're familiar with. Kids should always follow the steps to media literacy and fact-check information. In general, the following are the key identifiers of legitimate and fake news.

Hallmarks of legitimate news:

  • Attribution. Credible news stories include an author's byline, a dateline (when and where the story originated), and facts, figures, and quotes attributed to specific people and groups.
  • Standards and ethics. Credible news adheres to certain standards of ethics and professional behavior that are published on its website.
  • Full disclosure. An author should be clear about when his or her work is an opinion and whether he or she has any existing relationship with the subject matter that might color their judgment. Opinion pieces should be labeled "op-ed" or "opinion," and they're written in the first person (using "I").
  • Objective sources. Experts and other sources should have no conflict of interest when commenting on a story.
  • Trustworthy research. Studies created by scientists from reputable labs, such as ones affiliated with universities or independent, nonprofit institutions (that have no financial incentive to provide the data they're publishing) should describe their methodology. Research should be "peer-reviewed" (other scientists have read and signed off on the methods used to collect data).

Hallmarks of fake news:

  • Advertorial. Content that mimics traditional news but is paid for by an advertiser must state that it's advertising. It says "paid for by" or "sponsored content."
  • Viral videos. Not all viral videos are fake. But some that show up on the internet and on social media feeds can be misleading. Videos can be edited to include only specific scenes and audio.
  • Unusual URLs. The most familiar URLs end with ".com," ".net," ".gov," ".org," ".mil," and ".edu." Anything added to the ends of those URLs -- for example, ".co" -- could indicate someone trying to disguise their identity. Especially suspect are URLs that look eerily similar to the legitimate sites you already know.
  • Low quality. Look for words in all caps, headlines with glaring grammatical errors, bold claims with no sources, and sensationalist images (women in bikinis are popular in fake news). These are clues that you should be skeptical of the source.
  • Clickbait. Headlines with words such as "unbelievable," "epic," and "amazing" and extreme images designed to get people to click on a story usually lead to dubious content (ads, contests, downloads, surveys, sketchy business opportunities, and content that doesn't match the headline).
  • Unflattering photos. Websites and magazines with a particular bias or extreme view run photos of those they oppose caught mid-sneeze, frowning, and blinking. Legitimate news sources strive to use images that illustrate the main idea of a story.
  • Guilt by association. Fraudulent news sources place seemingly unrelated photos side by side to make the subjects seem to be behaving inappropriately. (Legitimate news sources try to avoid this.)
  • Unclear creator. Author bios should list why the creator is qualified to report on a topic. The site itself should clearly explain who supports the site or who is associated with it. If this information doesn't exist -- and if the site requires that you register before you can learn anything about its backers -- you have to wonder why they aren't being transparent.
  • Annoying, intrusive ads. Banner ads, flashing ads, and pop-ups are signs that the site is just trying to get clicks.
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Comments

Teen, 14 years old written by BigDaddyWasHere

Don't bother anymore. Even "credible" news companies on TV such as CBS, MSNBC, and ABC tell "their side of it (hint hint: agenda)"
Parent written by Big Daddy 1

MSM "Main Street Media" also earned title of Fake News: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NYT amongst other commonly known news sources have become PUBLIC ENEMY #1. Our founding fathers knew the priority of a true and unbiased news source in creating the 1st amendment. Unfortunately so many of the common news sources have SOLD OUT the American People to further the agenda of the Globalist, Communist and Islamist. Parent and their Children in order to get truthful news must turn on One American News Network, Fox News Business, Brietbart, Drudge Report, Infowars and other online news sources. Simply said it is the Duty of Every American to seek out the TRUTH! GOD BLESS USA!!
Adult written by Nms B.

Yes, you are correct that mainstream media isn't quite as unbiased as it should be BUT they are more unbiased than most of the conservative rags I've read. Fox and Brietbart? Seriously? You've got to be kidding me. I'd recommend Reuters and Democracy Now and read everything you can find, published by other countries, about the US. It will give you a balanced look at how the world sees the US. Yes, it's hard to sift through all the information out there for unbiased news but, if diligent, using the information mentioned in the article we're commenting on, an educated critically thinking person should be able to find the truth. Unfortunately, most of the news sites you mention violate the tips given in this article on how to recognize fake news. The conservative right has saturated social media in the hopes of preying on the uneducated and the elderly instilling fear. That's how they work. What we need is more centered reporting by all. And, seriously, you ended in all caps just like this article warns against in finding the truth? "TRUTH! GOD BLESS USA!!" You read and learned nothing from the article and you even dissed other faiths and political views. Although a wonderful country, the US is not the only free society on the planet and certainly not a world leader anymore. The Tweeter in Chief has seen to that, withdrawing from the Paris Accord, giving way for China to lead is just one example. You add the Founding Fathers and First Amendment in your comment but what you're not mentioning is the Founding Fathers included the establishment clause in the First Amendment which is the separation of church and state. This is something that most conservatives and all conservative rags fail to understand. The point you are making within your post is predicated on the mixing of church and state. First read the Constitution then give advice. From the looks of your comment; you're reading fake news and spreading the hate.