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How to Recognize a News Web Page

A News Web Page is one whose primary purpose is to provide extremely current information. The URL address of the page usually ends in .com (commercial).


Questions to Ask About the Web Page

Note: The greater number of questions listed below answered "yes", the more likely it is you can determine whether the source is of high information quality.

Criterion #1: AUTHORITY

  1. Is it clear what company or individual is responsible for the contents of the page?
  2. Is there a link to a page describing the goals of the company?
  3. Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the company? That is, is there a phone number or postal address to contact for more information? (Simply an email address is not enough.)
  4. Is there a non-Web equivalent version of this material which would provide a way of verifying its legitimacy?
  5. If the page contains an individual article, do you know who wrote the article and his or her qualifications for writing on this topic?
  6. Is it clear who is ultimately responsible for the content of the material?
  7. Is there a statement giving the company's name as copyright holder?

Criterion #2: ACCURACY

  1. Are sources for factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  2. Are there editors monitoring the accuracy of the information being published?
  3. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? (These kinds of errors not only indicate a lack of quality control, but can actually produce inaccuracies in information.)

Criterion #3: OBJECTIVITY

  1. Is the informational content clearly separated from the advertising and opinion content?
  2. Are the editorials and opinion pieces clearly labeled?

Criterion #4: CURRENCY

  1. Is there a link to an informational page which describes how frequently the material is updated?
  2. Is there an indication of when the page was last updated?
  3. Is there a date on the page to indicate when the page was placed on the Web? If a newspaper, does it indicate what edition of the paper the page belongs to? If a broadcast, does it indicate the date and time the information on the page was originally broadcast?

Criterion #5: COVERAGE

  1. Is there a link to an informational page which describes the coverage of the source?
  2. If you are evaluating a newspaper page and there is a print equivalent, is there an indication of whether the Web coverage is more or less extensive than the print version?

Copyright Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate 1996-2005
Print copies of this checklist may be made and distributed provided that 1) They are used for educational purposes only and 2) The page is reproduced in its entirety. For any other use or for permission to make electronic copies, please contact the authors at Wolfgram Memorial Library, Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA. 19013.