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Mythology: Evaluate Sources

Website Evaluation Checklists & Tools

How to Spot Fake News

Evaluating Sources & Specific Handouts

Best Fact Checking Websites for 2020

The 10 Best Fact Checking Websites for 2020

By Dave Van Zandt – Editor – Media Bias Fact Check

Media Bias Fact Check strictly relies on signatories of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) for fact checking the sources we review. The IFCN sets a code of principles that must be followed in order to remain a part of the network. You can view their code of principles here. With that said, this is our 2020 list of go to fact checkers.

Politifact– is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is owned by the Poynter Institute, which also operates the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) that sets standards for fact checkers. Politifact is a signatory of the IFCN and is simply the best source for political fact checking. Won the Pulitzer Prize.

FactCheck.org– is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.  They are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.  Fact Check is similar to Politifact in their coverage and they provide excellent details. The only drawback is they lack the simplicity of Politifact.

Lead Stories- is a fact checker and hoax/rumor debunker that uses the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles as a guide for all fact checking. What separates them is the use of a specific engine called the Trendolizer, which tracks story trends that allows Lead Stories to quickly debunk fake news before it becomes viral. They are often the first to debunk outrageous claims.

Science Feedback- is an IFCN fact checker that consists of two seperate websites, Climate Feedback, which reviews climate related claims and Health Feedback, which reviews health and medical claims. Each fact checker holds a Ph.D. and has recently published articles in top-tier peer-reviewed science journals. This is by far the best fact checker for science related claims.

AP Fact Check- is an IFCN fact checker from the Associated Press. AP Fact Check tends to focus on claims by political leaders and frequently fact check President Trump’s claims. The AP sources their fact checks with credible information.

AFP Fact Check is an IFCN fact checker from Agence France-Presse (AFP) based in France. The AFP is a large international news agency that has locations around the globe. This allows the AFP to cover diverse fact checks from many different countries. They frequently fact check fake photos and videos as well. This is the best english language fact checker for non-USA fact checks.

Reuters Fact Check- is an IFCN fact checker from the UK based Reuters. Reuters Fact Checks tends to focus on social media hoaxes and claims, however they also cover political statements. Reuters sources their fact checks with credible information. 

Full Fact- is an independent nonprofit IFCN fact checker based in the United Kingdom. Their focus is on political claims and misinformation published by the UK media. Essentially, Full Factis the UK’s Politifact.

Check Your Fact- is an IFCN fact checker owned by the Daily Caller. While the Daily Caller is not a reliable news organization, Check Your Fact operates independently of them and adheres to the IFCN principles. Check Your Fact is one of very few right leaning IFCN fact checkers. They primarily focus on hoaxes and political statements.

Fact Checker by the Washington Post– The Washington Post has a very clear left-center bias and this is reflected in their fact checks.  Their fact checks are excellent and sourced; however their bias is reflected in the fact that they fact check right wing claims more than left.  Otherwise the Washington Post is a good resource.

Additional Resources

Open Secrets– Open Secrets is a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, run by the Center for Responsive Politics, which is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.  Open Secrets are by far the best source for discovering how much and where candidates get their money. They also track lobbying groups and whom they are funding.

The Sunlight Foundation– The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses the tools of civic tech, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all.  Sunlight primarily focuses on money’s role in politics.

Poynter Institute– The Poynter Institute is not a true fact checking service.  They are however a leader in distinguished journalism and produce nothing but credible and evidence based content.  If Poynter reports it, you can count on it being true.

Ballotpedia- Ballotpedia is a nonpartisan online political encyclopedia that covers American federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy.  Ballotpedia’s stated goal is “to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government.”

Conclusion– A good fact checking service will write with neutral wording and will provide unbiased sources to support their claims.  Look for these two simple criteria when hunting for the facts.

9 Hidden Biases That Can Rule Your Life

9 Common Thinking Biases

Videos to Watch

OPVL - Resource Evaluation Tool - Especially Useful for Primary Sources

Analysis of Resources: Origin Purpose Value Limitations

OPVL is an effective tool to analyze primary and secondary source documents.

Origin

  Origin is where the source comes from.

  • Is this a primary or secondary source?
  • Who is the author or artist?
  • What date it was written or finished?
  • In which country the author or artist was born?
  • Where was it created?
  • What type of sources was it when it  was first presented (newspaper, book, letter, performance, display, speech, etc.)?
  • What was the historic context in which the source was created?
  • Is there anything known about the author that is important to know to evaluate it? 

Purpose

Purpose is where you have to put yourself in the author or artist's shoes. The purpose should relate to the origin of the source.

  • What do you think the author was trying to communicate?
  • What ideas or feelings was the author trying to express or make others feel?
  • Why did the author create this document?  Why does it exist?
  • Who was the intended audience of this source? Who was it created for?
  • What is the obvious message of the source? What other messages are there that might not be obvious?
  • The purpose is especially important when it comes to pieces of propaganda as sources.

Value

Value is how valuable this source is. Basically it's linked to the amount of bias in the source:  the more bias = the less valuable (usually). Primary sources are obviously more valuable than secondary/tertiary ones.

  • Why is this source important in the study of this topic?
  • What is an important quote from this source?
  • What value does this source have that might not be available elsewhere?
  • What can one tell about the author of this source?
  • Who does this source represent?
  • What was going on in history when this source was created?
  • What new information does this piece bring to the understanding of the topic?
  • How does this source help me better understand my research question?
  • How does this source help me better understand the topic?

Limitations

Limitations is also linked to bias, each source will be at least a little biased and thus they are limited by that. Do not state bias alone as a limitation. All sources have bias.

  • Why is this source biased?
  • How is this source biased?
  • Has the source has been translated from the original? (i.e., Hitler's diary entry was  translated into English by a historian and you're using the historian's book as a source)  If so, then the language difference will be another source of inaccuracy and a limitation.
  • What information was not available to the author when the source was created?
  • Did the author get the information from a reliable source?
  • Does the author have reason to emphasize certain facts over other facts?  How might the source be different if it were presented to another audience?\
  • Does the author have personal involvement in the event? How might this effect the source?
  • What specific information might the author has chosen to leave out? Why?
  • Does the author concede that a certain point as is inconvenient for the author to admit?
  • How might the historical context in which the document was created influence the interpretation of the document?
  • What is the length of time between the creation of this source and the topic or event it relates to? How is this time difference important to our study of the topic?
  • What should you be cautious about when using this source?

Thank you to Florida International University!

The following grid can help you understand OPVL by various types of sources

Type of Document

Origin

Purpose

Value

Limitation

Diary

Primary, by author for author, rarely published

To keep memories for later (sometimes with eye to publication)

Eyewitness to event and usually written immediately or shortly after occurred, rarely lies to oneself

Only one person’s view, there will be perspective issues, may be intended for publication therefore can even lie to oneself

Reminiscence

Primary, by author or interviewee

To offer an eyewitnesses’ perspective on an event

Eyewitness

Length of time between events and recollection can lead to loss of info, or changing of story, always perspective issues to be considered

Monograph

Usually by expert (often academic historian)

To educate colleagues, students, and the public (can be for monetary gain or promotion file)

Usually many years of primary research in archives and thorough knowledge of secondary works on topic

Always perspective issues, usually not an eyewitness, can err deliberately or accidently, not vey useful for quick overview since it will contain many pages of extraneous issues

General Text

Secondary, usually done by a panel of experts on country or topic

To educate students

Offers quick overview for student seeking quick information

Usually NOT an expert on every topic in text so there may be gaps and errors, may be too brief

Cartoon

Primary, done by artist for public at that time

To educate, entertain, and often to sell newspapers or magazines

Offer at least one person’s perspective on issue of the time, event

Don’t know how widespread it is, often exaggeration is used for comic effect

Speech

Primary

For public usually

Offers official view of speaker, it is what audience hears

May not be real views of the speaker, speeches are designed to sway opinion

Internal Memo

Primary

For internal examination amongst officials or government departments

Usually do not lie, so it is official view (as a speech) but private thoughts are often given too

Do not know what outsiders know, only what officials are saying to each other, may be fabricated

Thank you to Florida International University!