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Think Like a Fact-Checker

What does Reading Laterally Mean?

When presented with a new site that needs to be evaluated, professional fact-checkers don’t spend much time on the site itself. Instead they get off the page and see what other authorities have said about the site. They open up many tabs in their browser, piecing together different bits of information from across the web to get a better picture of this site where they’ve landed.

Only when they’ve gotten their bearings from the rest of the network do they re-engage with the content, with a better understanding as to whether to trust the facts and analysis presented to them.

What to look for when reading laterally:

  • Context is everything - get off the page and see what other authorities say about the site/information
    • Example Google search:
      1. The “-site:” tool allows you to eliminate results from a particular website or domain.
  • What is the perspective or bias of the author is necessary when looking at analysis
  • Understanding the process of publication is necessary when looking at facts

Activity - Read Laterally

Evaluate the reputations of the following sites by “reading laterally”. Who runs them? What is their history of accuracy? What is the goal of this site (to inform, entertain, persuade)? What is their publication process? Would you use this source?