When it comes to judging the credibility and reliability of news reports, news consumers have two main concerns: evidence and sources. Evaluating the reliability of information sources involves rating them based on a number of objective criteria. A simple memory aid called IMVAIN helps these sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at IS303, a middle school in Coney Island, New York, remember how to evaluate sources they are exposed to in their weekly News Literacy classes. It can help you too!
Source Evaluation Using the IMVA/IN mnemonic:
- Independent vs. Self-interested
- Multiple vs. Lone or Sole source
- Verifies vs. Asserts
- Authoritative/Informed vs. Uninformed
- Named vs. Unnamed
- Can you think you think of a recent news story in which IMVA/IN would come in handy?
- How do you currently evaluate sources in a news story? Are those ways different than how you evaluate the actual source of news?
- What is the difference between a news source and a source of news?
- Have you seen a story that only contained a single source? How do you think it would have changed if more sources had been included? Is there ever a time that a news story can only have one source?
- What makes a source unreliable? What would they need to become reliable?
- What are the red-flags that a news consumer must be aware of when encountering a news source?