"Nonfiction is that body of work in which the author purports to tell us about the real world, a real experience, a real person, an idea, or a belief."
Probst and Beers, 2016
Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.
1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits. (example: AmericanNews.com)
2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information (example: ConsciousLifeNews.com)
3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (4.) It is the reader's job to assess the quality of the content, particularly before using it to make an argument or sharing the information with others.
The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life. This guide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills.
The foundation of this guide was created by KT Lowe at Indiana University East. Please feel free to share this guide with others. If you are a librarian or teacher, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes. If you do, I'd love to hear about it.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.