paper about fake news

Read every sentence of assignment carefully! 90% of grade deductions can be eliminated by following these instructions carefully

Important General Point: never turn in a first draft! Edit and edit some more before turning in.

Critical Thinking

You will be expected to develop and demonstrate your critical thinking skills by:

  • Asking questions
  • Defining problems
  • Analyzing assumptions and biases
  • Examining evidence
  • Avoiding emotional reasoning
  • Avoiding oversimplification
  • Considering other interpretations
  • Tolerating ambiguity
  • Evaluating evidence (strengths and weaknesses)

You will be finding and writing about a fake news story. The best topics for fake news are viral political feeds—things that get millions of shares or hits but as it turns out there is little evidence for them and there was no “fact checking”.

Fake news is intentionally fabricated to harm or deceive, and to get attention, clicks, and financial or political gain. Fake news is disinformation or propaganda, that is deliberately meant to deceive people or harm some particular person (like a politician or celebrity, but is not limited to these groups) in order to gain financially or politically.

Fake news is NOT: (not Fake)

  • Sloppy/unprofessional journalism (mistakes); this is misinformation
  • Pseudoscience (e.g., autism-vaccine link)
  • Rumor or gossip
  • Any Negative Information About Someone
  • Opinion

Also, VIDEOS do not count as an article. No video only allowed (if there is a video embedded in article that is ok).

Steps to determine whether a news article is fake ( (Links to an external site.))

  • Consider the Source (does author have conflict of interest or a vested interest in the story?)
  • Read Beyond the Headline
  • Check the Author (is person real?)
  • What is the Evidence? (what do established sources say? Eg.; but false is not same as fake)
  • Any evidence it was written intentionally to disinform? (get people to believe something not true) or harm another person (embarrass, ruin reputation, etc)
  • Check for Inconsistent Dates (it claims something happened now when it happened long ago)
  • Rule out satire, rumor, and sloppy facts (misinformation)
  • Check your own biases (we are more willing to believe stories that fit our beliefs)

One easy way to start finding fake news is just to google “most popular fake news stories” and see what comes up. Be careful though just because google identifies a story in its search, doesn’t mean it fits our criteria. Also, many tabloid or satire sites have DISCLAIMERs in their ABOUT US section (often at top). Check that to see what their disclaimer is. Often this tells you they are essentially joking if it is satire/tabloid.

Before you start, read these two articles about what fake news is and how it’s made:


Find a fake news article or story online (could be on social media such as Facebook) about something you like and enjoy. Write a two full page paper, with three sections (no extra space between sections, just regular double space). Answer every question and make clear and explicit which question you are answering.

  • Make sure the article is FAKE (i.e., intentionally made up facts or information to mislead) not just bad journalism or satire. (see link above for more detail)
    • Avoid THE ONION or HUZLERS articles; these are satire
  • Must be a written article (no Tweets, no videos; Facebook post only if article not a personal FB post),
  1. Headline/Claims: (1 page)
    • What is the Headline?
    • What is the main claim (summarize in a paragraph)?
    • Does the headline accurately represent the article?
    • What is the original source of the information/claim?
    • Is the article from one of the or fake news sites? (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

  • What attracted you to this particular article? That is, why do you like it and did you believe it (or not) before you read it ?
  1. What are other sources saying? (approx. 1/2 page)

Go to either one of the following sources or another alternative source to verify or confirm or get a different

perspective: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (got quick source that tells you whether a site is real or satire)

do other sources suggest it is fake news or not?

  • If from satire sites like ONION or HUZLERS or CLICKHOLE or BOROWITZ REPORT

don’t review it; it is satire, not fake

  1. Conclusions/Lesson (approx. 1/2 page)
    • How does social media make fake news more likely?
    • Have you ever posted a story to your feed/wall that you found out later was fake? If so, briefly describe.
    • What is your take away from learning about fake news and how it’s made?

Your paper MUST have three Headings

  • Headline/Claim
  • Other Sources
  • Conclusion/Lesson

Include also a reference page (separate page). It must include a minimum of the one source your review but any other source you use in writing the paper. See APA style below (p. 4).

Your write-up needs to:

  • Be double-spaced
  • Have 1” margins and 12pt font size
  • Have a header with page # (use “header” option in the “View” menu in Microsoft Word)
  • Have a title page and reference page with your sources
    • Title page: title of article, your name, date (separate page, does not count in page total)
    • Have the reference in APA format (see below). This goes on its own page at the end of your paper (which does not count in the page total)
  • NOTE: If you use Googledocs, you MUST export to PDF file before loading to Canvas, otherwise your formatting will be messed up. Also, If you have formatting problems such as text starting in the middle or bottom of page 1 rather than page 2, make sure you add PAGE BREAK at beginning of page 2. Do this under the INSERT menu of Word or Googledocs.
  • The original article you review must be written in English (so we can confirm what it says)
  • Be at 2 pages of text in length (no more than 3 or 4 lines more or less than 2 pages)
  • DUE March 12 by Midnight. Must be turned in on CANVAS. No need to turn in a hardcopy (just CANVAS submission). Each day late is minus 3-4 points.

Satirical Sites DO NOT COUNT. Do NOT choice articles from any of these sites.

See (Links to an external site.) to check whether the site is satire.

  • Clickhole
  • Duffel Blog
  • Faking News
  • Private Eye
  • The Beaverton
  • The Daily Currant
  • The Daily Mash
  • Satirewire
  • Cityworldnews


For any part of your paper, do NOT quote; paraphrase, use own words!!!! Change more than 1 or two words per sentence. Paraphrasing means at least 50% of the words from a sentence or paragraph are your own.

I won’t accept any papers that have originality reports greater than 15% with any ONE source. That is, after you get your overall originality report, click on it (the colored box, that could be has high as 30-50%, and make sure that no one source (individual student papers, web, or publication) is greater than 15%. If so, that means you borrowed too much from one source. Similarity is not similarity. For papers > 15% similarity/originality we look at the similarity scores and see where it comes from. Usually it’s just from repeating the questions etc. So we grade it without penalty. If it comes from plagiarism and not using enough of your own words then we take off points but still accept the paper.

NOTE: To check your similarity report: After you submit it wait an hour or two and then go back in and see your paper. There are TWO ways to check similarity from CANVAS:

  1. Go to ASSIGNMENTS, click on Paper1 and scroll to bottom. Click on SUBMISSION DETAILS and there you will see a colored box with a %.
  2. Go to GRADES and just click on colored box on the far right of PAPER1

In each case then click on the colored box and go into the report and make sure no single number is about 15%.

It is not a problem if the headings give the similarity score. It’s fine. It’s only a problem if you have quotes or don’t paraphrase enough.

Note if you resubmit to it takes 24 hours to give you a new similarity %, because it has to delete your first paper from the system (otherwise you will be nearly 100% similar to yourself).

NOTE: I accept papers only in PDF format.

*No Word, GoogleDoc, or Pages formats*

If you have WORD make sure the paper is exported/saved as a PDF document. You can also do this from PAGES or GOOGLEDOCs. Otherwise, all formatting is lost and we will have to deduct points for formatting errors.

General Writing Tips (workshop interventions)

► Also, if you have trouble with writing clearly make sure you edit your own paper. Print it out after you finish it, read it out load, and clarify sentences that are poorly structured or that are missing a smooth transition. Also, remember the PEER CONNECTIONS (Links to an external site.) ( (Links to an external site.)) For instance, under the link at LARC for “WRC Writing Info” there are multiple grammar assistance websites, such as (Links to an external site.). This site helps you understand all of the basics of writing, from run-on sentences to sentence fragments, etc. Make use of resources available. Good writing is a skill that doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it. The more you write and the more feedback you receive, the better writer you will be.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • “Criteria” is plural not singular (“criterion” is singular)
  • People are always “who” not “that” (e.g., “Politicians who….”)
  • Double space all text, including reference section
  • It is “based on” not “based off of”
  • No contractions


Include a reference section at the end of the paper (on a separate page, which does NOT count in your page total) with your reference fully cited and referenced in APA style

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