Fake News - Zimdars' List

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As in all these blog posts, any pictures below are all linked to full-sized versions.

Edit: Jan. 11, 2016: Here's an excellent graphic that shows the relative skew or slant, and the reliability of several major news sources. The image was created by Vanessa Otero and found on Facebook. Click the image for larger, readable version.

 

(12/01/2016 - There is now a PDF available during the interim that contains Zimdars' list until her website goes live.  )

Professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College recently put together a list of "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources". While attempting to find that list, I discovered that it has been taken down, at least temporarily, in order to expand it, and transform it into a website, elevating it from its current status as a Google Document.

There has been a vociferous hue and cry from the right-leaning side of the fence about Zimdars' list. (Or rather, from the right-leaning side of the wall.) Apparently some of their sacred cows that spew anti-left screeds were included on the list, while some left-leaning spewers of anti-right screeds were left off. (Rest assured that just about every one of the sites included on the list have posted strident articles decrying their inclusion and offering evidence to contradict Zimdars' inclusion. Sift through them and draw your own conclusions.)

Well, partly because of my own persistent left-ward lean, and after reading several interviews with the obviously well-informed and fact-based woman herself, I find Professor Zimdars' criteria for inclusion/exclusion completely satisfactory. In that spirit then, I diligently searched until I found a copy of the list. Sadly, it was on a news source itself, so there is no guarantee that this list is the same as Zimdars' in all respects. However, I think there are enough domains included to make this at least a good starting point. Zimdars' introductory text is included, as is her description of the numerical coded categories used to label the sources.

Here then is Zimdars' list, cobbled together quickly from various sources I tried to vet, and provided only in the interim until her list appears again in a more substantial form. Her Creative Commons attribution is left in-tact below. It allows the re-publication of the information.

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources

by Melissa Zimdars

Some of contents of this educational resource/google document, specifically the list of potential false, misleading, clickbait-y, and/or satirical news sources, have been removed in order for it to be transferred to and expanded on in a more permanent, dynamic, and collaborative home. This page will reflect updates as they become available. 

Tips for analyzing news sources: 

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy)
  • Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources  
  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs). 
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources. 
  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue. 
  • If the website you’re reading encourages you to DOX individuals, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news. 
  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources. 

Bio: I am an assistant professor of communication & media, and this list started as a resource for my students, who are learning about journalism/social media/media literacy.

Update 1: I’ve received hundreds of emails with suggestions, very few of which are duplicates, so it will take me a while to sift through and verify them. I will add them as appropriate. (EDIT 11/15/2016 @ 3:42 EST: I have a list of sources, suggested by all of you, that will take me a long time to get through)

Update 2: Yes, I am considering further coding/categorizing these sources for clarity and creating a more durable/dynamic database. This is likely just step 1.

Update 3: Some people are asking which news sources I trust, and all I can say is that I read/watch/listen very widely, from mainstream, corporate owned sources (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes) as well as The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and various local and alternative sources with different political perspectives, some of which are included on this list. The problem: Even typically reliable sources, whether mainstream or alternative, corporate or nonprofit, rely on particular media frames to report stories and select stories based on different notions of newsworthiness. The best thing to do in our contemporary media environment is to read/watch/listen widely and often, and to be critical of the sources we share and engage with on social media. 

Update 4: A group of AWESOME librarians will be working with this list to provide more detail, examples of the news articles in question, etc. I will post what they make here when it is complete. 

Update 5: It should be noted I’m not the first person to call out some of these websites. When I first started compiling this specific large list on Monday, some friends alerted me to many websites doing similar and great work, such as Ed Brayton’s recent post at Patheos (I included many of the websites on his list after checking them myself if I was unfamiliar). I plan on providing more links to outside resources in the near future. 

© 2016  by Melissa Zimdars. 
The work 'False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources' 
is made  available  under a  Creative Commons 
Attribution 4.0  International  License. To  view  a copy of  this license, visit 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ 
 

CATEGORIES

1: Below is a list of fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits. These websites are categorized with the number 1 next to them.

2: Some websites on this list may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, and they are marked with a 2.

3: Other websites on this list sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions, and they are marked with a 3.

4: Other sources on this list are purposefully fake with the intent of satire/comedy, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news. I’m including them here, for now, because 1.) they have the potential to perpetuate misinformation based on different audience (mis)interpretations and 2.) to make sure anyone who reads a story by The Onion, for example, understands its purpose. 

WEBSITES

  • 100PercentFedUp.com (2,3)
  • 21stCenturyWire.com (2, 3)
  • 70news.wordpress.com (1)
  • Abcnews.com.co (1)
  • ActivistPost.com (2, 3)
  • Addicting Info (3)
  • AmericanNews.com (1)
  • AnonNews.co (3)
  • Associated Media Coverage
  • BeforeItsNews.com
  • Being Liberal
  • BigAmericanNews.com
  • BigPZone.com
  • Bipartisan Report (3)
  • BizPac Review
  • Blue Nation Review (2,3)
  • Borowitz Report (4)
  • Breitbart (2, 3)
  • Call the Cops (4)
  • Cap News  (4)
  • ChristWire.org (4)
  • Chronicle.su
  • CivicTribune.com (1)
  • ClickHole.com (4)
  • CoastToCoastAM.com (2)
  • CollectiveEvolution (3)
  • ConsciousLifeNews.com (2)
  • ConservativeOutfitters.com (2)
  • ConspiracyWire (WideAwakeAmerica.com) (2)
  • CountdownToZeroTime.com (2)
  • CounterPsyOps.com
  • CreamBMP.com (1)
  • Daily Wire
  • DailyBuzzLive.com
  • DailyCurrant.com
  • DCClothesLine.com
  • DCGazette.com (1)
  • DerfMagazine.com
  • Disclose.tv
  • DrudgeReport.com.co (1)
  • DuffleBlog.com (4)
  • DuhProgressive.com
  • Embols.com
  • Empire Herald
  • Empire News (1)
  • EmpireNews.com
  • Endingthefed.com
  • EnduringVision.com (1)
  • FPRNradio.com
  • GeoEngineeringWatch.org
  • GovtSlaves.info
  • GulagBound.com
  • HangTheBankers.com
  • HumansAreFree.com
  • Huzlers (4)
  • IfYouOnlyNews
  • Indecision Forever (1)
  • InfoWars (1, 2)
  • Infowars.com
  • Inquisitr.com
  • IntelliHub.com
  • JonesReport.com
  • LewRockwell.com
  • Liberal America
  • LibertyTalk.fm
  • LibertyUnyielding
  • LibertyVideos.org
  • LMR/LibertyMovementRadio.com
  • MediaMass.net (1)
  • MegynKelly.us (1)
  • MSNBC.com.co (1)
  • MSNBC.website (1)
  • Naha Daily (4)
  • National Report
  • NationalReport.net (1)
  • NaturalNews.com
  • NC Scooper
  • NCT (New Century Times)
  • News Examiner
  • NewsBiscuit.com (1)
  • News-Hound.com (1)
  • Newslo (1, 4)
  • NewsMutiny.com (1, 4)
  • Newswatch 28
  • Newswatch 33
  • NewsWire-24.com
  • NoDisInfo.com
  • Now8News
  • NowTheEndBegins.com
  • Occupy Democrats (3)
  • PakAlertPress.com
  • PoliticalBlindSpot.com
  • PoliticalEars.com
  • Politicalo (1)
  • PoliticusUSA
  • PrisonPlanet.com
  • PrisonPlanet.tv 
  • Private-eye.co.uk (includes 4)
  • ProjectVeritas
  • React 365
  • RealFarmacy.com
  • RealNewsRightNow.com (1, 4)
  • Red State (3)
  • RedFlagNews.com
  • Reductress (4)
  • RileNews.com (1, 4)
  • Satira Tribune
  • Sprotspickle.com (4)
  • The Blaze
  • The Free Thought Project (3)
  • The Free Thought Project (3)
  • The Onion (4)
  • The Other 98% (3)
  • The Reporterz
  • The Stately Harold
  • TheDailySheeple.com
  • TheNewsNerd.com
  • TheRunDownLive.com
  • TheUsPatriot.com
  • TruthFrequencyRadio.com
  • Twitchy.com (3)
  • UnconfirmedSources.com
  • US Uncut (3)
  • US.Blasting.News
  • USA Supreme
  • VeteransToday.com
  • WakingUpWisconsin.com
  • Winning Democrats
  • WitScience.org
  • World Net Daily
  • World News Daily Report (4)
  • WorldTruth.tv
  • ZeroHedge