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IOWA Magazine | December 2018
ASK AN EXPERT: How Can You Spot Fake News?
Melissa Tully, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Melissa Tully

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:

Check the source.

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.

Read thoroughly.

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.

Vet the author.

Consider the reporter's personal biases, interests, and credibility.

Weigh the evidence.

Determine whether the claims are one-sided or supported by verifiable data.

Acknowledge your biases.

Says Tully: "We need to be skeptical and challenging without falling on the side of being cynical and apathetic."

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