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Fact-Checking 101: Read Widely

December 16th, 2016 by Chris Strauber

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Fact-Checking

Fact-checking is hard, but it is almost impossible to assess statements or stories you know nothing about. That’s part of what propagandists play on. There isn’t really any substitute for being broadly informed. What follows is some discussion of what I suggest.

Advice

  1. Read widely.
  2. Read more than you watch or listen. TV, video, and radio are usually limited in scope to what looks good/sounds good, and also because most people can read much more than they can see/hear in a given amount of time.
  3. Read outside your Overton Window. Lots of things European and Asian governments do would be unthinkable in the US…and vice versa. Having a frame of reference external to whatever political or social conversation you’re fact-checking helps you decide what’s really outrageous and what isn’t.
  4. Make sure that you’re seeing things you disagree with or are puzzled by daily.

News sources at Tufts

Newspapers work differently in libraryland for a variety of not very interesting reasons, mostly related to money. We don’t usually have access to the newspaper’s website, instead we get them through databases which are mostly designed for search rather than browsing.

Option 1: Web for discovery, library for delivery

As with journal articles, the easiest way to find out if we have something when you hit a paywall is to do a search in Jumbosearch. Be aware that the title of the article sometimes changes a little between the website and the various editions of the paper.

Option 2: Search for discovery

If you’re looking to do comparative analysis of how stories are covered across sources, you’ll want to use one of our newspaper databases.

Lexis-Nexis and Factiva are large collections of mostly English-language newspapers. They’re designed to allow you to readily compare coverage from paper to paper and region to region. Lexis-Nexis also includes transcripts of television and radio network broadcasts.

Tufts also has access to the Boston Globe, The New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times are findable in Lexis-Nexis. For conservative British coverage, you might try the Economist. If you’re looking for less mainstream news coverage, you can try Alt Press Watch or Ethnic News Watch, which focus on smaller publications.

Series NavigationFact-checking 101: Check the sources

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