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Instructors:
Chapter 6
 

A JOURNALIST'S SKEPTICAL RESEARCH

 

Activities

Test questions & PDF

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In addition to the Chapter 6 synopsis and activiites, the PDF download includes the following quiz and exam questions and answers.

 

Quiz/exam questions bank

 

True/False instructions:  Please circle the correct answer.

 

1.  One of the reasons that journalists should use search engines thoughtfully and skeptically is that search engines are not objective or neutral.  (True or False)  Answer: True

 

2.  To determine whether a source of information on a website is credible, a reporter should research the identity and motivation of the source; whether that source can speak or write with authority on the subject; how accurate the information is likely to be; and whether the information on the site is up-to-date.  (True or False)  Answer: True

 

3.  Journalists can include their opinions in their blog posts.  (True or False)  Answer: True

 

Multiple choice instructions:  Please circle the correct answer.

 

4.  Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing have inherent flaws for a journalist’s purposes.  Therefore, the best rule of thumb for journalists is the following:  Answer: B

a.  Never use search engines like these when working on a news story.

b.  Using search engines to gather initial information for a story is fine, but confirm all information with more credible sources before including it in a story.

c.  Using search engines like these in stories is fine, as long as any facts used are in quotes. 

d.  None of the above.

 

5.  Which of the following best defines crowdsourcing?  Answer: D

a.  This the journalistic term for finding sources in a crowd on the street, such as when you’re covering a political rally, concert or protest.

b.  This is the journalistic term for poor source selection.

c.  This term refers to news stories that have so many sources that they confuse readers or viewers.

d.  This term refers to soliciting information from people who are not trained journalists.

 

6.  While websites are not always good sources for journalists, which of the following is likely to be a good, primary Internet source?  Answer: D

a.  Court documents posted on an official U. S. government website.

b.  Scientific studies posted on the website of a reputable research institute or journal.

c.  Comprehensive plans or government reports posted on an official government website.

d.  All of the above.

 

7.  Which of the following is a good way to begin researching a website’s credibility?  Answer: D

a.  Identify the URL suffix.

b.  Click on the “about us” tab (or one with similar information) to read a description of the organization and its purpose.

c.  Review the bios of the people responsible for the website or its parent organization, such as editors or members of the board of directors.

d.  All of the above

 

8.  Which of the following accurately states a helpful way to verify the identity of someone on Twitter?  Answer: D

a.  Check how long someone has had a Twitter account.  If the account has only been in existence a few days, you might be suspicious of the source’s information.

b.  Call the person and ask for more identifying details and for other witnesses who can corroborate what the person is saying.

c.  If the account user makes his name public, use a search engine—perhaps paired with words like “spam” or “misinformation” to see what comes up.

d.  All of the above.

 

9.  Which of the following best describes potential problems for a journalist who uses social media for reporting?  Answer: D

a.  Social media sites are not representative of the general population—particular sites skew to particular segments of the population.

b.  Even when you carefully double-check a source from the social media, it can be difficult to determine for sure that that person is who she says she is.

c.  Photos and videos can easily be faked or modified.

d.  All of the above.

 

10.  Which of the following accurately states a good way to verify photos or videos that appear on social media?  Answer: D

a.  Double-check satellite images or street maps to see that the background in an image matches the place where a photographer claims to have been.

b.  For videos that include people who speak a different language, have interpreters confirm that the people in the background are saying what the source claims they are saying, and the local accent matches the information in the video.

c.  Call the person who supposedly recorded a moment and double-check the uploader’s history.

d.  All of the above.

 

Short answer instructions:  In three or four sentences, please answer the following questions. 

 

11.  What are two main differences between a blog and a news story?

 

Blogs written from a journalist’s point of view focus on opinions rather than independently verifiable information. Although a reporter may write both news stories and a blog, a blog is commonly thought of as more of a diary or commentary.  Although blogs can provide a valuable service, helpful information and a different angle on the news, they’re not held to the same standards as news stories. For example, because news travels much faster in the world of blogs than it does through regular news sources, there’s less time to confirm information and double-check for accuracy.

 

12.  Please define the following term and provide an example to illustrate:  “aggregator site”

Answer:  Along with providing an example, students should include:  They are websites that compile information from other news organizations, although sites such as the Huffington Post and Yahoo News also provide news from their own reporters.  It’s important to remember that aggregator sites contain blogs, news stories and second-hand information.  These may provide journalists with tips, but journalists always need to do their own first hand reporting.

 

Long answer instructions:  In 10 to 12 sentences, please answer the following questions.

 

13.  A friend says that you can’t trust anything you read on the Internet, that every website is just the same, after your money eventually.  You know that there are different kinds of websites with varying degrees of credibility.  Please describe a.) three tips you would offer so your friend could be more savvy, and b.) summarize what you would say to your friend.  

 

Answer:  Along with summarizing what they’d tell their friend, students should include the basic tips for assessing a website’s credibility— check identity and motivation, authority, accuracy, and timeliness.