There’s big money to be made warping reality, but now, some of the world’s biggest newsrooms are setting themselves up to call out lies when they happen. Joshua Johnson talks with two media reporters about what can be done to fight what’s often called “fake news,” and the false accusations of “fake news.” Plus, we’ll hear from a news literacy expert for tips on how not to get duped by fiction masquerading as journalism.


  • Brian Stelter Host of CNN’s Reliable Sources; senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide. He reports and writes for CNN and CNNMoney.
  • Margaret Sullivan Media columnist, The Washington Post.
  • Alan Miller Founder and president, The News Literacy Project; Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist with the Los Angeles Times.

How To Identify "Fake News"

The News Literacy Project has put together a quick checklist for verifying information. These 10 steps can help you tell between a real story and a hoax.

1. Gauge your emotional reaction: Is it strong? Are you angry? Are you intensely hoping that the information turns out to be true? False?

2. Reflect on how you encountered this. Was it promoted on a website? Did it show up in a social media feed? Was it sent to you by someone you know?

3. Consider the headline or main message:

a. Does it use excessive punctuation(!!) or ALL CAPS for emphasis?

b. Does it make a claim about containing a secret or telling you something that “the media” doesn’t want you to know?

c. Don’t stop at the headline! Keep exploring.

4. Is this information designed for easy sharing, like a meme?

5. Consider the source of the information:

a. Is it a well-known source?

b. Is there a byline (an author’s name) attached to this piece?

c. Go to the website’s “About” section: Does the site describe itself as a “fantasy news” or “satirical news” site?

d. Does the person or organization that produced the information have any editorial standards?

e. Does the “contact us” section include an email address that matches the domain (not a Gmail or Yahoo email address)?

f. Does a quick search for the name of the website raise any suspicions?

6. Does the example you’re evaluating have a current date on it?

7. Does the example cite a variety of sources, including official and expert sources? Does the information this example provides appear in reports from (other) news outlets?

8. Does the example hyperlink to other quality sources? In other words, they haven’t been altered or taken from another context?

9. Can you confirm, using a reverse image search, that any images in your example are authentic (in other words, sources that haven’t been altered or taken from another context)?

10. If you searched for this example on a fact-checking site such as, or, is there a fact-check that labels it as less than true?

You can find more advice on vetting news sources on the News Literacy Project website.

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