What is a credible source of information?
Turns out it’s a hard question to answer.
We want news sources that carefully check facts, do thorough research, rely on expertise, and are careful to separate factual reporting from editorial opinion. We want news sources that don’t twist facts to suit their point of view.
Even the very best sources will make mistakes sometimes. Credible sources make fewer mistakes, and quickly correct the ones they do make. Credible sources will not intentionally mislead readers with false or distorted information.
Table of Contents
- Why are credible sources important to us?
- How do we judge credibility?
- Types of sources.
- Our list of credible sources:
- Unreliable Sources.
- Coming soon: State by state guide to best local news sources.
Why are credible sources important to us?
This list of credible sources is here for two reasons.
- When we build a Reality Card, these are the sources we look to for information. We want to be sure we use the most reliable sources possible. We want to earn your trust, so we want you to know exactly where we get our information, what we think is credible, and why.
- We want this Credible Sources List to be a resource for others – like you – who want to be sure that they are using the most credible sources available. If you’re looking at a news article, and you are not sure if you should trust it, the most important thing to do is look at the source. Is that source trustworthy? This is here to help answer that question. (More help is coming soon.)
How do we judge credibility?
We look to experts to determine the credibility of sources.
There are several frameworks for rating credibility. We rely on several news-rating companies, including Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard, who have robust criteria for rating sources.
These are the high level criteria that determine whether a source is credible.
- Public statements of ownership, funding sources, research policies, editorial policies, authors and corrections, advertising and can verify that there are no hidden influences or controls over their content.
- They have professional journalistic standards, including fact-checking, a public mechanism to report errors, and attribution of sources of information.
- They avoid sensational or incendiary language, hate speech and do their best to avoid spreading disinformation of any kind, including in public commentary on their site.
- They avoid unethical marketing tactics, like bots or questionable targeting schemes.
For a more detailed discussion of these criteria, please read NewsGuard’s rules on credibility and transparency and The Global Disinformation Index’s four pillars of rigorous, reliable journalism.
We don’t always agree with their findings, but we respect both approaches.
Types of sources.
- Original sources. If an article or report references an interview or a document, or other original source, we go to that source.
- Peer reviewed journals* We look to peer reviewed journals, and the authors published in those journals for reliable technical or scientific information.
- There is a world of legal, scientific, health and other technical information out there, and it can be very hard for non-experts to understand the implications of technical information. Misuse of that kind of info is a common disinformation trick. That’s why we rely upon experts to interpret that information for us, when it’s out of our area of expertise.
*Articles are written by experts and are reviewed by several other experts in the field before the article is published in the journal in order to ensure the article’s quality. (The article is more likely to be scientifically valid, reach reasonable conclusions, etc.)
- Credible News Media. This is where it gets challenging. See below.
- Others – in some cases, we use sources that are highly specialized and well known for tracking certain types of information or data. In that case we look to our media bias partners and well-respected experts in the field to vouch for the credibility of the source.
Bias and point of view.
At Reality Team, we are people, we have a point of view. Sometimes we have very strongly held opinions on a topic. In order to balance that, we try to use sources that have an opposite view point as much as possible. We can not pretend to be strictly unbiased – but we work hard to make sure we understand the basic facts and how reasonable people can interpret them differently.
We invite feedback on this. We will engage in reasonable discussion. We will fix mistakes or question our assumptions. We hope this list helps you as much as it helps us.
Our list of credible sources:
Most reliable Fact Checking Sites:
Most reliable National Media considered editorially neutral.
Most reliable on the facts, but may have a liberal editorial bias:
Most reliable on the facts, but may have a conservative editorial bias:
Alphabetical List of Trusted National Media Websites.
Note – This is not a comprehensive list. There are thousands of reliable sources. These are the most commonly referenced at a national level. Each of these meets the criteria set by Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard. The vast majority of news you come across will be corroborated in one or more of these sources if it is true. If you have reason to believe that one of these sources is not trustworthy, you would like a source added to the list, please let us know on our contact page. Please feel free to also ask us to look up the ratings on a new news source you come across. We will update these lists periodically to reflect any changes.