Even if you don’t trust a particular outlet, you can often use their reporting to work back to primary sources, which you can use to fact-check what the outlet is saying or cast it in a different light. Here are some particular sources to look for:
A LEGAL FILING
Stories involving specific crimes are often drawn directly from legal filings, which are usually publicly available. You can often find the original documents as links in the article, or uploaded to third-party sites like Scribd, DocumentCloud, or CourtListener. Many of the filings only show allegations, but they’re a reliable picture of what the authorities think is happening in a particular case.
INTERVIEWS AND DIRECT QUOTES
Firsthand interviews are a core element of journalism. When possible, news outlets will print a person’s real name and quote them directly, and since most reputable journalists won’t risk their job by fabricating a quote or a source wholesale, those quotes are usually reliable. Outlets will generally only withhold names if identifying a person would endanger them, or put them in legal jeopardy.
Some of the most important stories in journalism come from leaked documents, which can reveal corporate wrongdoing or governmental misconduct. But less established outlets sometimes exaggerate what a particular video or document means, using original material as a license to make outlandish claims. It’s often useful to check the document to make sure it supports the article’s claims.
A PRESS RELEASE
Companies often exaggerate to make themselves look good, but if you want to confirm that a particular event or announcement really happened, a press release is a good way to make sure. You can find many of these statements on company and government agency websites, official social media accounts, and dedicated sites like PR Newswire.
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