Study finds that students can evaluate news sources

Jamie Pellikaan, Co-Editor

“Fake news.” The term has been everywhere for the past few months, but what exactly is fake news and how identifiable is it to students?
A recent study conducted by the Eyrie has discovered that answer is much more complicated than some might think.
A total of 34 students participated in a blind study in the Contemporary Issues class. They were handed three worksheets and were asked to answer questions regarding the news articles on the worksheets.
One test had two articles, both regarding recent protests at airports, and both were from different news sources. One was from CNN and the other from InfoWars. The students were asked to evaluate the reliability of the information in both articles.
CNN is a generally trusted news site and InfoWars is a news site run by Alex Jones, a known conspiracy theorist.
Overall, most students said that the article from CNN was more reliable and showed the least amount of bias while the InfoWars article was said to be the one containing the most bias.
Some students made this assertion because CNN is a well known news source that has a lot of name recognition and that lead to more students picking it as the trustworthy news source.
Moreover, most students cited the InfoWars article as being less reliable as it was not a news source that they were familiar with.
Some believed that the article was full of opinion, stating “while the article is reporting an event that happened, their argument is based on opinion.”
The other two tests each had an article a piece on them, both on different topics and both from different sources. One was from an accredited news source and the other from what most people consider “fake news.”
The real news article was from BBC about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The “fake news” article was from Natural News detailing the corruption of Child Protective Services (CPS).
Some students thought that the Natural News article was legitimate as it appeared to be from a news outlet, because the word “news” was in the name. However, some were skeptical as they had never heard of Natural News.
The assessment shows an inability to discern fact from opinion that reappears more often than not.
While the “fake news” article is steeped in opinion and bias, some students weren’t sure if it was entirely fake.
One student wrote that “the information is reliable, but it is heavily opinion based.” However, this student and many others failed to recognize that true reliable information has no bias attached.
Most students said BBC was the real news article, stating that it gave facts.
The teacher, Matthew Croft was suprised by the results.
“To be honest, I was surprised at how much the students knew about ‘fake news,’” Croft said.
Overall, students correctly identified the bias in each article. They found that “fake news” is more than just false information.