Guide Source criticism

A step-by-step guide on how to be source critical.

  1. Read the entire text. Often times, we only read the introduction before we share the text. It is important to know what is written in the rest of the text as well, particularly because a lot of media takes advantage of this and writes something different in the introduction than in the body of the text.
  2. Check dates. When was the news published?
  3. Double-check facts. Search for one or a few pieces of information in the text. It is always good to get as nuanced of a picture as possible.
  4. Identify the publisher! Always check who has published the text. It is extremely important so you don’t contribute to fake or incorrect information.
  5. Think about the purpose. Often, we say things in affect or in the heat of the moment. That is why titles, introductions, or pictures or worded in a way that makes us feel a lot in the moment and click or share without thinking first. This is called clickbait—a way of tricking us into sharing, clicking, or reading.
  6. Here are four good control questions that can be found in the Institute for Media Studies’ research report Distrust against media (2017): What is new in this story? What proof is needed? What are the sources? How safe are they? What do we still not know?