Identifying untrustworthy news sites

A public document posted by an assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts has been described as a great source of help for identifying news sites that should not be trusted.

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources” was originally written by Dr Melissa Zimdars as a tool for “teaching students about journalism/social media/media literacy.”

Dr Melissa Zimdars

Dr Melissa Zimdars, courtesy of Merrimac College

It gives tips for identifying untrustworthy news sites such as blatantly incorrect URLs and recommends checking known reputable websites to see if they are also covering a story.

“Some people are asking which news sources I trust, and all I can say is that I read/watch/listen very widely, from mainstream, corporate owned sources (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes) as well as The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and various local and alternative sources with different political perspectives (Truth-Out) some of which are included on this list,” writes Dr Zimdars.

“The problem: Even typically reliable sources, whether mainstream or alternative, corporate or nonprofit, rely on particular media frames to report stories and select stories based on different notions of newsworthiness.

“The best thing to do in our contemporary media environment is to read/watch/listen widely and often, and to be critical of the sources we share and engage with on social media.”

The document also contains a long list of sites identified for their bias, conspiracy views, fake news and other unreliability issues.

Dr Zimdars also heads OpenSources.co, a professionally curated classification list of online sources to help people to find reliable information online.

One of the sites listed as biased, freebeacon.com, has hit back claiming that Ms Zimdars is a fake professor and calling the document an “awful’ fake news list written by feminist and social justice activist”.

View Dr Zimdar’s faculty profile on the Merrimac College website here.

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