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Journalism - Evaluating News and Information: Articles and Data

This guide offers background on types of information and tips for analyzing sources in order to become an active information consumer and responsible journalist

Vetting Information: "Researchers found that..."

Generally, we think of journals and articles as reliable, however even otherwise reliable data can be presented in skewed ways. When taking in information, consider:

  • Who is the researcher? – use Google Scholar to see if other publications have been written by the author.
  • How many times has the article been cited?
  • Can you trust the journal? – use impact factors (Journal Citation Reports)
  • What do others say about the journal?
  • Find high-quality secondary sources
    • Government site: .gov
    • Educational site site: .edu

Example: Verifying Articles

This article linked the original scientific article from the American Chemistry Society, but the headline and text is misleading. For a scientific study mentioned in an article, do research to find the original study or data. 

 

Video: Not all scientific studies are created equal

This video explains some of the problems inherent in reporting about scientific research and points out some concepts that news consumers should be aware of when reading about the findings

Source: TED-Ed, David H. Schwartz

Length: 4:26 minutes

Data Literacy

Example: Evaluating Data

This seems counterintuitive that gun deaths go down after a "Stand Your Ground" law was passed in Florida. So we went directly to the data to verify the graph. 

 

The data disproves the graph. Notice that the first graph is upside down. The Y axis always has zero at the bottom. If you look at the data and the corrected graph, you can see that gun deaths increased dramatically after the law was passed. 

 

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