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Evaluating Sources of Information

How to find the original source

This is a good strategy to use when you find news sources that are "reporting on reporting." What do we mean by this? In many news articles online, you will find they do not provide original information also know as "original reporting." Instead, they sharing information another article provides. You will find this happens with a lot of big news stories. 

When you find a source that is "reporting on reporting," this does not mean the source is bad. It just means you need to check with the original source to make sure the information being presented is accurate and not taken out of context. Depending on the information you may need or want to use, it may be better to use the original story as your source instead. 

Search Tip: If your source doesn't hyperlink or cite the original, do a search with the title, publisher and/or author of the original claim to locate it. If you don't have that information, you could do a search to try and find another story that outlines the timeline of an event or story happening. 

Example

The source to investigate

This TIME article is an example of "reporting on reporting" discussing the real story behind the 2019 film, Hustlers....

"Hustlers is based on Jessica Pressler’s December 2015 New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” for which the journalist interviewed both Keo and the scheme’s other leader, Samantha Foxx... "

If you wanted to use the lateral reading method of finding the original source, instead of using this TIME article, you would need to find the original article of this story.

Action: Open a new tab

From the TIME article, we learned the original story was titled "The Hustlers at Scores" in New York magazine. To find this original source, do a search with this information: "The Hustlers at Scores New York Magazine."

The original New York magazine article came up as the second result and the author of the source has it published on her original website.