How reliable is your source? Start by asking these questions

Credible fact-checking is built on reliable sources. To evaluate a source's reliability, ask these questions about the organization behind the sources, data or reports:

  • Who founded the organization?
  • Why?
  • What is that person’s background?
  • Who funds the organization?
  • Do the funders have a political or ideological mission?
  • If there is a board of directors, who is on it?
  • What organizations or industries do they represent?
  • Do the directors seem to have similar backgrounds?
  • Is the organization nonprofit and nonpartisan?
  • In the U.S., is the organization listed as a 501(c)(3) or some other designation? You can find the definitions of those terms on the ProPublica website.
  • Check the language on the “About Us” page. (It's a red flag if there is no "About Us" page.)
  • Is it partisan? Does it favor a particular “side” of an issue? The Annenberg Institute’s “Critical Thinking Resources” lists the political leanings of various organizations and offers comments on each organization's value as a resource.

Taken from Fact-checking: How to Improve Your Skills in Accountability Journalism, a self-directed course by Alexios Mantzarlis and Jane Elizabeth at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.

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