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COMM 200 4: Media Literacy and Analysis

SIFT Method

SIFT is a different way to think about sources, that is specifically designed for web content that is difficult to evaluate with the more traditional checklist methods mentioned above.

The SHIFT Method is based on Four Moves and a Habit by Mike Caufield. If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend working through Mike Caufield's news literacy course

STOP

Take a moment to think about the source. Checking in with how you are feeling and your initial thoughts on the source will help you investigate it further. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is this article from a source you trust?

  • How does the source make you feel?

  • What do you know about this source already?

  • What are the claims that you could investigate?

Investigate the Source

Before you start reading an article, take a few minutes to investigate the site where the article is published. This can help you decided if reading the article and further evaluation is even worth your time. Take a look at the following.

  • Explore the website. An About page or mission statement will give you valuable clues

  • If investigating something on social media, go to the profile of the person who originally shared the information.

  • When all else fails, Google them to see what has been written about the person or site.

Find Better Coverage

This step is specifically useful when looking at news content. Often a story is covered by many different news agencies. If you find the site that you are on to be suspect, search for a similar story from other websites. Search for the keywords used in the article or the article title.

Trace Claims back to Original Source

It is very likely that the story you have found online is not the original version of the story. News stories in particular are shared by many different news outlets, that take base information and spin the story to interest their readers. You are looking for that base information.

  • See if you can find the original story or image. For a story, google the keywords and pay attention to the date stamps. What does the earliest story say? For an image, you can find out a lot about the image with a reverse image search.

  • You can also investigate specific claims the story makes. Does the story include quotes from other sources? Are there hyperlinks or a bibliography? Go to these sources and see if your source accurately portrays the original claim.

Class Activity