30 Ways to Evaluate News

Random Observation/Comment #647: I wish there was a news service that just highlighted good news. I want more wholesome representations of random acts of kindness.

Why this list?

I often read the news to extrapolate the facts and take the rest of opinion with as a skeptic. Maybe that’s why I’m always on snopes. I want to make sure that the skews and exaggerations were for clickbait headlines or if there’s actually some well-written piece describing the story. If you think an article is groundbreaking enough to change your mind, I suggest reading the discussion and trying to rebuild the story from the ground-up.

These questions might help with understanding different human instincts that tend to over react to the news.

  1. Is the source and writer reputable?
  2. If this is secondary, do you trust the person retweeting/reposting?
  3. Are you personally biased and invested in actively agreeing or denying the claims?
  4. Does the article seem like it has another motive?
  5. Is the funding/sponsor of the source of research bias? (e.g. Was this a puff piece written to sell something)
  6. What’s the data size and diversity?
  7. Is the evidence cherry picked for results?
  8. Is this correlation or causation?
  9. Are both sides of the argument addressed?
  10. Has the news just been picked up from multiple sources and diluted because it’s trending? Is this the original article?
  11. Do the images shown for the thumbnails mislead the article content?
  12. What’s exaggerated to make the story more interesting or relatable?
  13. How long did the piece take to write? A copy and paste or someone else’s work or truly well researched over months?
  14. Does the piece highlight far right or far left points of view?
  15. (Especially for Finance) Is the article meant to scare or pump investor views?
  16. Is the data being extrapolated incorrectly?
  17. Do the charts make sense? Have they adjusted the axes and filtered the context to prove their initial hypotheses?
  18. Is the article purposefully promoting fear, uncertainty, and doubts (FUD)?
  19. How would you summarize the story to another person on the opposite side? Can you defend the position without looking stupid?
  20. How do you think a layman may interpret the news? (Also important for investments – the herd opinion determines the market and not the truth.)
  21. Who is the intended audience and call to action?
  22. What is the immediate perceived impact and chain reaction practical impact?
  23. Can you read more about the original cited sources to draw your own conclusions?
  24. Can you read other articles written by the author to notice any biases?
  25. Is the language used purposefully evoking emotion?
  26. Does the article use quotes from influential people to skew your views? (“if a CEO says this, then I should likely also believe it”)
  27. Can you reverse engineer the one or two facts used to write a 1000-word post?
  28. Is it too early to make assumptions or rash decisions?
  29. Who can benefit from the article?
  30. Is this just another hype article about bitcoin or blockchain to make the number go up?

~See Lemons Read Intently