Skip to Main Content

Journalism - FIGs: Finding & Evaluating Information

Evaluating Information

Always evaluate content found on websites (using Journalism's 5 Ws + 1 H) before using it as a source. 

  • Who -  Who is the author, content creator or website publisher?  Look for "about us" links, bios, philosophy, etc. What are his/her credentials and how do they relate to the topic?  Search the domain registration for website ownership at:, Whois request, Whoisology, Internic Whois , IP Whois,Domain Dossier, BetterWhois, Domain Tools Whois Lookup
  • What - What kind of information is it?  Is the information from primary or secondary resources? Is there documentation or evidence available? Are there references with links to sources and documents cited?
  • Where - Where did you find the information?  Is the source (publisher, organization) reputable?  Is the website legitimate?
  • When - When was the information published?  Is the information current or archived?
  • Why - Why was the information published?  Does the information appear to be biased, based on evidence or quality data? Who is the target audience for the content?
  • How - Is the information accessed? Are there barriers to access (paywall, registration, etc.)?

Verify the facts before you publish

  • Follow the evidence, check the facts:
    • Find the source or original information/image.
    • Investigate the source's reliability by checking its digital footprint (account registration, other social media accounts, blogs).  How long have the accounts been active?
    • Cross-reference information (check information gathered by speaking to the source against the content the source has posted online).
  • Kovach & Rosenstiel in Elements of Journalism:
    • Never add anything that was not there.
    • Never deceive the audience.
    • Be transparent about your methods and motives.
    • Rely on your own original reporting.
    • Exercise humility.

Verify images, photos and video before publishing


Consult the Journalist's Resource  strategy guide for finding quality credible resources.  It is a great place to find resources on a variety of current topics.

Citing Sources

Attribution—citing resources and avoiding plagiarism—is vital to good journalism.

These citation manuals and guides may be available in the Reserves section of the Journalism Library or online.

The Columbia Missourian 5 minute Stylebook 2015 - 10 percent of the rules cover 90 percent of style questions.  Maggie Walter, et al.

Citation Styles & Tools  A quick guide for MLA, Chicago, APA, and other citation styles.

Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial (MU Libraries)

You Quote it, You Note it! An interactive anti-plagiarism tutorial from Acadia University

AP Stylebook Online

  • Accessible only to MU users
The Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World Online provides a comprehensive guide to Associated Press usage and accepted style, with chapters on religion, fashion, food, broadcast, business, sports and social media. Now includes 185,000 definitions from Webster's New World College Dictionary. Columbia Missourian Stylebook is also included.