An informed citizenry is crucial to democracy, yet in today's vast media landscape, it can be difficult to determine fact from fiction. Melissa Tully, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, helps first-year students improve their media literacy in a class called Fact Check: Debunking Hoaxes, Conspiracy Theories, and Fake News. Here's her advice on how to evaluate the legitimacy of a news story:
Verify that the claim comes from a reputable news organization. Consume more news from a variety of reliable sources and follow trusted outlets on social media.
Before sharing a story, ensure the headline is not just a ploy for more clicks. Stop the spread of false information by respectfully commenting on misleading articles.
Consider the reporter's personal biases, interests, and credibility.
Determine whether the claims are one-sided or supported by verifiable data.
Says Tully: "We need to be skeptical and challenging without falling on the side of being cynical and apathetic."