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Lateral Reading: Handout

Evaluating Online Sources through Lateral ReadingHow you were (probably) taught to evaluate information: Is it a .com or a .org? While some .orgs are reliable (pewresearch.org), some are biased or partisan (911truth.org).  Does the site have ads? Some of the most authoritative news websites are .coms with ads (nytimes.com, wsj.com)  Are there citations?  Non-credible websites often include citations to other articles on the same site.  Is the information current? Currency can be important for timely topics, but the newest source isn't always the best source.  While sometimes helpful, these are SUPERFICIAL MARKERS OF CREDIBILITY.   How you should be evaluating websites:  Lateral reading: A skill used by professional fact-checkers to jump outside of a source and usenew browser tabs to seek additional information about a source's credibility, reputation, funding sources, and biases.Lateral reading involves using Wikipedia, credible news sources, and other references to better understand what a source is.Start with an unfamiliar website, then open a new browser tab and search for information about the source.

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Citizen Literacy was created by Robert Detmering, Amber Willenborg, and Terri Holtze for University of Louisville Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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