The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.
The goal of this article is to provide a framework to create crowdsourced checklists to assess the news products. Much has been said and written in recent years about whether journalism can be trusted and whether it matters; some of it has been spewed out of the Oval Office. The question has been settled in recent weeks. How to make sure the information you get is reliable, the source is credible?
Checklist for assessing the particular media format and outlet
Checklist for assessing an article, social media item, news report
Tracers regarding specific topic: Flatten the curve, masks, social distance, vaccine
In their book The Elements of Journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel identify the essential principles and practices of journalism.
Here are 10 elements common to good journalism, drawn from the book.
Thus, write Kovach and Rosenstiel, “The first task of the new journalist/sense maker is to verify what information is reliable and then order it so people can grasp it efficiently.” A part of this new journalistic responsibility is “to provide citizens with the tools they need to extract knowledge for themselves from the undifferentiated flood or rumor, propaganda, gossip, fact, assertion, and allegation the communications system now produces.”
But I would ask this of any journalist who pleads that they were just relaying and providing context for expert opinions: what was the experts' percent confidence in their position?
I am so serious about this. What fact could possibly be more relevant? What context could it possibly be more important to give? I'm not saying you need to have put a number in your articles, maybe your readers don't go for that. But were you working off of one? Did this question even occur to you?Checklist for assessing the particular media format and outlet:
Is there clear bias in the reporting?
Who owns the media outlet?
Is the content is controlled by owners, editorial boards and newsrooms.
Is there a pay wall?
What is the business model?
Who are the experts and how are they paid?
Checklist for assessing an article, social media item, news report
The CRAAP Framework for articles
When deducing the credibility of a sensational piece of news, ascertain its currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose (CRAAP).
These criteria provide guiding questions that we could use to evaluate if the articles about COVID-19 are trustworthy.
Think about: the moment you have chosen to read an article (currency), the date of publication (relevance) and the intention of the writer (authority). You should also look for secondary sources to verify the claims made in the article (accuracy and purpose).
Additionally, you can note the vocational training of the writer. Is the writer trained in the topic of interest? Does the writer sit in a position of power?
Currency: Timeliness of the article Evaluate the source of information
When was the article published? Is it timely?
Were there revisions/updates made
Relevance: Applicability of the article
Was the article related to the topic of interest?
Authority: Source of the article
Who wrote the article?
What are the credentials of the author(s)?
Accuracy: Factualness of the article
Was the information correct?
Was the tone unbiased?
Is the content guided by science?
Is the news item commercial free or attribute financial relationship
Purpose: Reason for the existence of the article
What was the purpose of the article?
Was there conflict of interest?
Additional questions about the news item
Does the article/ news item provide context for what is happening?
Does the news item address a local vs. national vs. global perspective ?
Is the article/ news item diverse in the reporting?
Is the organizing focus of the news item personal experience
Pictures and emotion
How often are particular “experts” mentioned in the article
Role of interest groups (Pharma)
Solutions and action: how concrete and useful is the information provided.
Does the article provide meaningful information about relevant regulation and legal requirements
For example: What we need is specific, actionable information:
What’s the capacity of hospitals in our town?
Are there viral hot spots in particular neighborhoods?
Which stores have groceries?
Visualization and data: How does the article use data, visual effects.
Does the headline reflect the content of the article?
Sport reporting approach
Our political press has to cover our government not with scorecards and spin rooms, but with a depth and a seriousness that reflects what is at stake.
Is news article or item driven by "Trump Obsession"?
Coronavirus: Conspiracy Theories: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) Jul 19, 2020
How the address false news
A recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was dedicated to false news and misinformation. The host offered the following three topics to treat the COVID 19
Is there a rational non- conspiracy explanation?
When evaluating scientific papers
analyse the raw data
evaluate the methodology.
Correlation vs. Causation
Infographs are easy to read, but some might be misleading.
take note of negative evidence.
Has it been held up to scrutiny with experts and how did it fare?
Projections based on models
What is the purpose and time frame of this model? For example, is it a purely statistical model intended to provide short-term forecasts or a mechanistic model investigating future scenarios? These two types of models have different limitations.
What are the basic model assumptions? What is being assumed about immunity and asymptomatic transmission, for example? How are contact parameters included?
How is uncertainty being displayed? For statistical models, how are confidence intervals calculated and displayed? Uncertainty should increase as we move into the future. For mechanistic models, what parameters are being varied? Reliable modeling descriptions will usually include a table of parameter ranges — check to see whether those ranges make sense.
If the model is fitted to data, which data are used? Models fitted to confirmed Covid-19 cases are unlikely to be reliable. Models fitted to hospitalization or death data may be more reliable, but their reliability will depend on the setting.
Is the model general, or does it reflect a particular context? If the latter, is the spatial scale — national, regional, or local — appropriate for the modeling questions being asked and are the assumptions relevant for the setting? Population density will play an important role in determining model appropriateness, for example, and contact-rate parameters are likely to be context-specific.