(Daily360.com) – The evening news was once as American as apple pie and baseball games. Familiar, trustworthy anchors reported the facts, even if they were tough, creating a source of information people could rely on, at least most of the time.
These days, the vast majority of media outlets seem to have lost the plot. Rather than upholding journalistic integrity and bringing the truth to the people, they’re committed to little more than the ability to make a quick buck. The industry itself is rife with bad actors who seek to spread disinformation and inspire chaos among the public.
This raises an important concern: can you really trust what you read? Is there even a way to determine who’s being truthful, and who’s jerking your chain?
The answer is yes — and the CRAAP test can help.
What Is the CRAAP Test?
The CRAAP test is an acronym you can use when trying to determine the legitimacy of news sources. It stands for “Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.” The concept’s original goal was to help scientists and researchers verify information in the academic world, but it can also help you root out the “craap” so commonly found in modern news, too.
Despite the terminology, information “currency” doesn’t refer to how much data’s worth. Instead, it represents how recent or current the information really is. Old, outdated facts and sources are often used to prop up misinformation, even if they’ve been disproven since the original date of publication. To avoid falling for this trap, check publication dates for both the original article and any sources within it.
Does the information presented have any relevance to the topic at hand? Content that seems to wander all over the place, go off-track, or break off into irrelevant tangents may be a red flag for subterfuge. Or, it might mean the creator doesn’t truly understand what they’re talking about in the first place.
Content switches gears from the main topic to deliver a political rant is also suspect. The publisher may simply be using what interests you to gain their own personal soapbox.
Authority is all about expertise. Does the writer or publisher have any knowledge or experience in the topic? Do they have a track record for publishing truthful and accurate pieces? Info published by industry experts, universities, or government agencies, such as the CDC, is more likely to be reliable than, say, a random blog, social media post, or YouTube video. Exceptions exist, but generally, credentials do count.
Accuracy isn’t always easy to determine, especially in the news. Our world is so saturated with disinformation it can be difficult to know who to trust. First and foremost, check the facts: do the publisher’s claims check out? Can you find any other credible sources reporting the same information or upholding it as the truth? Beware of anything that contains false facts, information you cannot verify, or heavily debunked claims.
Every piece of content in existence, no matter the format, has some kind of core goal or purpose. Identifying this purpose, however, isn’t always easy. Bad actors may mask disinformation campaigns and advertising revenue attempts by writing whatever it takes to get you to tune in. Others may share their version of the “facts” to fulfill their own political agenda.
Be skeptical when you review the content. Can you identify its core goal? Is the page so littered with ads that you can’t even navigate the content? Who benefits from this information, and why? If it seems suspicious, listen to your gut — verify the facts elsewhere.
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