How to rate dubious articles on the web
Again and again we get inquiries to various articles on the Web, which are based on pure claims. It is clear that Internet users are insecure here, because their gut feeling already conveys to them: “Watch out, there’s something wrong”.
The Internet is an almost inexhaustible source of information of all kinds. But there are also many half-truths and untruths behind it.
The Internet offers an unmanageable wealth of information on topics of all kinds. Never before has it been so easy to get the information you need quickly and cheaply or to find answers to burning questions.
But as a rich pool of knowledge, the World Wide Web also offers a fertile breeding ground for half-truths and untruths. True to the motto “It doesn’t matter where the information comes from”, misinformation or false messages spread rapidly on the Internet.
Where does this information actually come from?
Of course, it is not always easy to get a reliable picture of the quality of online content. And of course, not every single piece of information has to be checked down to the last detail. Nevertheless, it is advisable to think about the trustworthiness of Internet sources – especially in the case of controversial or sensitive topics.
The following considerations can be helpful here:
- WHO? – Who is behind it?
- HOW? – How are the contents presented?
- WHY? – What is the intention behind it?What is the overall impression of the source?
Critically question reporting
In times of economic pressure and increasingly diverse online offerings, political reporting is associated with ever-growing challenges. Not only journalists are confronted with new tasks, but also the readers of a medium.
For example, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the reading public to understand how a report is produced, what decisions are behind it and why this particular event has become a “news”.
In order to be able to assess the quality of reporting, it is worthwhile to carefully compare different media.
A rather manageable topic is best suited for testing purposes, e.g. the inauguration of a new minister. Follow the event in different media channels (e.g. television/radio, newspapers, online newspapers and/or social networks) and pay attention to how the inauguration of the politician is presented.
- Which topics of the person are disseminated in which media and how?
- Which are ignored?
- Which sources are used by different media?
- According to which criteria are videos cut?
- Which contents are selected, which are omitted?
Tips for evaluating journalistic work
- Who is the author? What other content did he/she write? Who is behind the journalist? Who is he or she networked with? What medium/editorial office or financial dependency could be behind it?
- Is it a journalistically researched article or a personal opinion (e.g. a blog, a commentary in an (online) newspaper, etc.) that may be ideologically or politically tinged?
- Which sources are cited? What about the quality of the research? For example, was only the report of a press agency, such as the UPI, taken over?
- Is there an imprint? Who is behind it?
Questions about who, how and why can be answered using the following checklist:
|Who is behind it?
Author, owner, publisher of the website? Private person, organisation, authority, university, company, political party, publishing house, newspaper, etc.
What is known about the author?
Check the net and search for the name.
Is there an imprint with contact person, address and contact possibility?
|What is the format of the offer? Website, forum, blog, news site, database, wiki, etc.
The personal opinion has other qualities when judging than a lexicon.
Professionalism: Current content? Spelling mistakes? Outdated or not working links?
|Which target group is the website aimed at?
Customers, children, young people, families, experts, companies?
What is the purpose of the website?
What is the interest of the publisher of the website? Is the content intended to inform, entertain or influence?
Which style of writing is used?
Academic with many technical terms, journalistic or simply understandable? Objectively informative or sensational populist?
Which sources are referred to? Which websites are linked to? Which other sources of information are mentioned?
Dear Facebook user, let’s make a deal.
Before you ask us about dubious pages where your gut instinct is already evident in the run-up, we first ask the origin, evaluate the source and ORDER it into a CONTEXT.
If necessary, add a SECOND or even THIRD source (AND NO – if somebody is chattering something 1:1, it is not an independent source)
Dear Facebook user, you keep saying that you don’t want to be manipulated. Then don’t let it do that either!
Teaser: Shuttertsock / Aaron Amat