Think like a journalist: How to check a story

Fake news is now part of our every-day vocabulary and it feels like it’s everywhere. So how do you know who to believe?

For a journalist, there’s no such thing as alternative facts – there’s either real news or fake news. Checking stories with trusted sources is a key part of a journalist’s job. Here, BBC newsreader Tina Daheley explains how she checks the facts when reporting on the latest news.

Tina's top five tips

Here’s how to decide whether a source should be trusted:

  1. The story – where did the story come from?
  2. The author – who is telling this story, and what do you know about them? They may have a reason for sharing or might have made mistakes. Journalists make sure they have at least two sources to verify a story
  3. Fact check – does all the evidence add up? See if there are any first-hand accounts and if the facts are repeated in other trusted sources
  4. Expert advice – is there another side to the story? Have a look at a range of different opinions and see who else is telling the story
  5. Images - is there video or are there pictures in the story? Check them using a reverse image search.

Where next?

Tips for spotting fake news online
Be social media smart: Is seeing believing?
Fake news and BBC Young Reporter
Fact or Fake?