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Fake News and Information Literacy

A guide to help you be a better consumer of news.

Lateral Reading for Checking Facts (video tutorial)

Check out this 3-minute video from University Libraries at the University of Louisville to learn about lateral reading of websites as an approach used by fact checkers to evaluating news sources. The key message is to move throughout the Web to assess the website in question. Do not rely solely on the content or links of the website itself ("vertical reading"). 


Creative Commons License CC by NC 4.0

Citizen Literacy was created by Robert Detmering, Amber Willenborg, and Terri Holtze for University of Louisville Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Lateral Reading

When evaluating a source found on the web, don't just look at the source. There are sites that may look very professional and credible that are actually promoting a certain agenda or viewpoint. If you are unfamiliar with the source, it is always a good idea to open a new tab and do a web search on the source and/or the organization that is providing it.  This is what is called "lateral" reading.

This short, online video from Mike Caulfield at Washington State University provides a good introduction:

Online Verification Skills -- Video 1: Introductory Video

There are 3 more short videos in this series, all with useful tips:

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Tips for Website Evaluation

Tips for Website Evaluation

1. Is there a parent website? Who pays for the website?

2. What does .org or .com have to do with it? Domains do not determine reliability. Many reliable resources use  .com domains like the five U.S. major dailies;  NYT, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and Washington Post. 

3. Is the About page really the spin page? How do you corroborate what you have read on the About page? Lateral reading is a way to use the entire Web as a way to evaluate the credibility of a website.

4. Even if a link on a website leads to a reliable resource, be sure to read the content in order to see if it supports the premise of the website or not. 

5. Don't judge a website by its cover! A website may look professional; yet it is easy to manufacture respectability, so browse laterally!

6. Check Wikipedia, especially the entry's references for your topic. Note the Wikipedia "Talk" webpage for entries. This is where experts refute the content.

These website evaluation tips are from this  2020 report:

Wineburg, Sam, Breakstone, Joel, Ziv, Nadav, and Smith, Mark. (October 21, 2020). Educating for Misunderstanding. Stanford History Education Group. Retrieved from