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Information Interrogation (Wayne College)

Information Interrogation

Information Interrogation

Evaluating the information you consume on a regular basis is not only an important information literacy skill, but it's also an essential part of everyday life. We are now bombarded by information everywhere we look and need to make sure that the information we are using and sharing is high quality and worthy of our attention.  

It's time to place your information under a magnifying glass and answer some basic questions.  We will use the same interrogatives that we learned in grade school:

The 5 W's (and an H):

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

We will use these easy to remember question words to interrogate our sources and ensure that they are worthy of our time and understanding.

Use each of this guide's tabs to explore how each question helps you to evaluate the value of your sources.

Context: Truth and Lies

Before you get started with your information interrogation, let's take a look at the context of evaluating your sources.

To get started, let's agree not to discuss "Fake News."  Let's keep the discussion focused on information literacy and your ability to think critically about information that is provided in a variety of ways (television news, cable news, social media, newspapers, magazines, journals, websites, your friends, your family, et cetera).

Spend some time thinking about what is the truth, what is a lie, and all of the grey area that lies between.  To help with this, take some time to listen to this podcast from Ted Radio Hour from  Friday, June 23, 2017, titled, "Truth and Lies" by Guy Raz.

Ted Radio Hour: Truth and Lies 

"We live in a time where the line between fact and fiction is increasingly blurry. This hour, TED speakers share insights on navigating a world where even the facts are up for debate."

See below (center frame) for the full TedTalks that are discussed in the podcast.  They are also worth your time to view in their entirety.

Types of Problematic Information

Be on the look out for these seven types of of problematic information as described by Clair Wardle from the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy:

  1. Satire or Parody: No intention to cause harm but has potential to fool
  2. Misleading Content: Misleading use of information to frame an issue or individual
  3. Imposter Content: When genuine sources are impersonated
  4. Fabricated Content: New content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm
  5. False Connection: When headlines, visuals or captions don't support the content
  6. False Context: When genuine content is shared with false contextual information
  7. Manipulated Content: When genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive

C. Wardle. (2017, February 16). Fake news. It’s complicated.  Retrieved from 

Fact Checking Sites

Factitious Game

How Do You Stand Up To A Holocaust Denier?

Michael Specter

Laura Galante

Carrie Poppy

Stephanie Busari

Other Frameworks for Evaluation

Check out these alternatives to the 5 W's (and an H) for evaluating your sources:

CRAAP Evaluation

E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News