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Course Guide for EMS 2011/AGRO 2011/HORT 2011 Analysis of Environmental Issues

Introduction to SIFT

Infographic showing the steps of SIFT: Stop, Investigate the source, find trusted coverage, trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context

SIFT is just one way to help evaluate news sources. 


Ask yourself if you are familiar with the source and if you trust the website. If you don't, try some of the other steps first in this process. This step encourages you to not read or share the information until you know what it is. This step also reminds you to take a second to if you feel like you are getting overwhelmed. 



Figure out where the article is from. Know what you are reading before you read it. Who is the author? What background do they have? What about the source itself? Is this an article on the beneficial uses of crude oil put out by the petroleum industry? While the article might have some great information, it is important to recognize where the author is coming from. Knowing the expertise and agenda of the source will help you to interpret what they are saying. 



There will also be times when you need to figure out if an article is true or false, if it represents one viewpoint or if it is an article with other controversial viewpoints. It is important to read multiple sources and get a general overview of the topic. All issues have multiple and layered sides.  It is important to also find trusted and in-depth sources on these topics. You don’t have to agree with the consensus on your topic but by understanding the context and history of the claim or topic, it will help you to better evaluate it.  

In the case of if an article is true or false, doing a quick Google search can help you find other sources reporting or not reporting on the article.



Many things found on the internet have been stripped of the context or taken out of context. We see this a lot in news stories on the benefits of chocolate, alcohol, or other things we enjoy. If you can trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, you can see it in its original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented.


SIFT is about REcontextualizing

It is about getting the necessary context to read, view, or listen effectively and doing that before doing anything else.


Think about it? 

Who is the speaker or publisher? What is their expertise? Their agenda? What is their record of fairness or accuracy? We investigate the source to see if it’s reputable. By scanning for other coverage you can see the expert consensus, learn the history and ultimately find better sources.

Videos and words can be taken out of context and made to seem better or worse than it actually is.


Adapted from the Check, Please! Starter Course.

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