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Fake News and Media Literacy

Resources and strategies for becoming media literate.

Media Literacy Skill: Assessing Authority


Assessing Authority

When you read laterally about online information, you are evaluating the authority and perspective of its creators.  You need to leave the original page to determine this authority and perspective because you cannot rely solely on what the creators tell you about themselves.

No one can be an expert on every subject, so we have to rely upon others who have expertise in areas that we do not.  Experts are not always right, but they should work within systems that fact-check and hold them accountable when they make mistakes.

When assessing authority, you are determining whether the creators have expertise in the subject area.  You should look for information about:

  • the professional background of the creators
  • how they created the information in question
  • the system they work within and whether it has protocols to catch and correct mistakes (for example, the journalistic guidelines followed by credible news sources or the peer review process for academic publication)

When assessing perspective, learn about the creators' lived experiences by searching elsewhere online.  Consider how those experiences have influenced the content and the way in which the creators have chosen to present it.