Skip to Main Content

SIFT-ing to Evaluate Sources

The SIFT strategy is quick, simple, and can be applied to various kinds of online content: social media posts, memes, statistics, videos, images, news articles, scholarly articles, etc.

STEP 3: Find Better Coverage

Yellow icon of a chart with the text Find Better CoverageIn Step 3, we're focused on whether the information is true, and less on the source itself: 

If you encounter information while reading a source that you don't know much about, you may just want to verify that the information is true without spending time verifying that source. 

Or perhaps you know it's a low quality source! So you need to find better coverage of that information elsewhere in a source that you DO trust.

How can we do that easily? 

KEYPOINT: Expert fact-checkers have a group of high-quality news source that they trust.

  • This makes verifying information easy for them. You may not have this foundation yet but you will build it as you investigate more sources! Or ask a librarian for help. 

KEYPOINTSometimes you’ll find that no one else is writing about it, which is often a warning sign. 

  • If it's a big news event, it could be a warning sign about the source and that what you're reading is fabricated/false information. Or it could be that the event is still happening.

Let's Try It

You're browsing the web and find a piece of information that you're unsure about and you're also unsure about the reliability of the source. So we don't want to spend time verifying the source, we just want to locate better coverage of that information. 

One frequent piece of false information you might see are hoaxes around the deaths of celebrities and important figures. But do we want to know about Gizmodo as a source OR do we want to know if Colin Powell died?

Screenshot of a Gizmodo article with the headline "Colin Powell dies of complications from COVID-19"


You can open up a new tab and do a search for "Colin Powell dies" and you'll either find fact-checking sites disproving this piece of information or in this unfortunate case, that yes, it is true and that major, reliable media outlets are reporting it. 

Duck Duck Go search results for "colin powell dies"


Now you try it...

Write down your reflections on this process in your notebook or online document.

  1. Visit the News tab on Twitter and select a piece of information being reported. 
  2. Open a new tab and do a search for that information. 
  3. Locate a reliable news source that is also reporting that information. Are both sources that you found reporting the same information?

Creative Commons Acknowledgement

Note: The information on this SIFT guide was adapted from "Check, Please!" (Caulfield) & the adaptation guide from Wayne State University. The canonical version of this course is available at (Links to an external site). The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. We ask people copying this course to leave this note intact so that students and teachers can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. We also ask librarians and reporters to consider linking to the canonical version.

As the authors of the original version have not reviewed any other copy's modifications, the text of any site not arrived at through the above link should not be sourced to the original authors.