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Research Guides

GEOG / JSIS 123: Introduction to Globalization - Winter 2024: SMART Check the News

Is your source SMART?

The SMART Check is particularly helpful when evaluating news stories.  Determine if your news source is SMART before believing what is reported.    

Source: Who or what is the source?

  • Where does the story come from?
  • Is it a reputable news outlet?
  • If the source is unclear, be skeptical about the story.  
  • Make sure it's a source you can trust - e.g. a newspaper with good fact checking.

Motive: Why do they say so?  

  • Do they have a special interest or particular point of view that may cause them to slant information to suit their beliefs or causes?
  • Biased sources can be accurate, but you need to check them carefully.
  • Get all sides to a story.  

Authority: Who wrote the story?

  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Is the person reporting the story an eyewitness or is he/she interviewing an eyewitness?  Remember eyewitnesses can be wrong.  
  • Be wary of any source that is repeating hearsay and rumors.
  • Make sure it's a source you can trust - e.g. an expert on the subject, a journalist reporting for a news outlet with a code of ethics, etc.  

Review: Go over the story carefully.  

  • Does it make sense? 
  • Is it logically consistent?  
  • Are there any notable errors in facts or conclusions?  
  • Make a list of questionable facts.  Develop questions about the story.

Two-source Test: Double check everything if possible.

  • Talk to others or tune in to other newscasts to see if they are also reporting the same story.  
  • Research the subject in journal articles and newspapers, by interviewing others, and search online.  
  • Does your two-source test confirm or contradict the story?


Is your source scholarly, popular, or trade?

A stack of books

Not sure if an article is scholarly or popular?  Need to verify that a journal is refereed?  Search the  Ulrichsweb periodicals directory for the title of the publication in which the article was published to see if the Document Type is academic/scholarly.

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