How to Tell If a News Story Is Fact or Fiction

How to Tell If a News Story Is Fact or Fiction

( – Headlines seem to constantly flash before our eyes as the news cycle ebbs and flows. As new stories come down the pipe every day, it can be difficult to discern what’s real and what’s not. Still, with a bit of time and attention to detail, every educated reader can tell fact from fiction when staying up to date on current events.

Find Where the News Story Gets Its Facts

Headlines are written to draw readers in, but they do not tell the full story. When reading an article, make sure the writer references documents, video clips, and press statements to back up their facts. Facts stated with no first-hand accounts, reputable documentation or statistics should be taken with a grain of salt.

If there are quotes from people or facts given from organizations, look them up on a search engine to verify their identity. Are the people and organizations well-reputed and speaking within their area of expertise? If not, it may just be a story to garner attention and nothing more.

Lastly, check the date of the news story. Sometimes, news outlets rerun articles to try and get more runtime out of them. But, these pieces are just old news.

Every Story Has a Bit of Bias

Bias tends to infiltrate news, even if only subtly. News writers have opinions that make it into their reporting. Bias isn’t wrong, but it’s not fact.

Look for dialog tag words like “erupted” or “bragged” when reading how the writer characterizes statements. These verbs automatically put emotions behind someone’s words that may not have actually been there. Similarly, when writers attach adjectives like “remarkable” or “violent” to people or events, they invoke an emotional response from readers. However, these words can imply things that did not happen or only paint half of the picture.

Finally, as readers, we all have some internal biases, and we might need to remember that facts do not require our approval. They are simply a truth we must accept as reality.

Lastly, Figure Out What Is Missing From the Story

Whenever someone reads a story, it is easy to simply skim the words, then move on to the next one. It’s critical, however, to take a moment to reflect and ask a few questions about the story’s content, like:

  • What facts could be missing from this story?
  • Did the author jump to an unsupported conclusion not based on the facts alone?
  • Did the author correctly assume they fully understood underlying issues that were at play?
  • Was this story written to stir up a specific reaction in its readers?

By diving into these questions, you can quickly separate truth from opinion in many news sources. With hundreds of ways to obtain information these days, Americans need the ability to discern for themselves what is and isn’t real.

Copyright 2021,