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JOUR202 - Editing for the Mass Media

Guide to characteristics of the Internet and evaluating Websites to support students in Journalism 202 - Editing for the Mass Media

Criteria: Authority/Accuracy

When judging the Authority of a web resource/website, look at the following:

  • Author
    • Who is providing the information?
    • What are their qualifications?
  • Affiliation
  • URL Hints (.gov, .org, .net, .edu, .com)
  • Links - where does the site lead you?
  • Contact information

  • Helpful Hint: If you truly are not sure who is sponsoring a particular site, try a WHOIS search - to determine who owns a website/domain name.

When judging the Accuracy of a web resource/website, look at the following:

  • Is it sloppy or full of errors?
  • Are sources given?
  • Has the site been evaluated?
  • How did you find this site?
    • Broad search engine?
    • Selective directory?
    • Link from a reputable source?

Criteria: Purpose/Content

When assessing the Purpose and Content of a web resource/web site, consider the following:

  • Stated or implicit purpose
    • Advocacy
    • Commercial use
    • Hoax/Counterfeit
    • Informative
    • Humor/Spoof
    • Personal page
    • Propaganda
    • Hacked information
  • Coverage
    • What topics are included
    • Are the topics explored in depth
  • Evidence of bias
    • Is there a minimum of bias?
    • To what extent is information contained on the site trying to sway

Criteria: Currency

Depending upon the purpose of the website (see above), Currency may need to be taken into account. Considerations include:

  • Update frequency - is this historical data (a copy of an old map), or does it need to be current (e.g. stock information)?
  • Currency of links - are links from the page/site current, or are they out-of-date?

Criteria: Design, Organization, and Ease of Use

The last criteria helps you determine the usability of a page. Considerations for Design, Organization and Ease of Use include:

  • Does the layout serve the user?
    • Is it logical? Well organized?
    • Are there "help" features?
  • Is the design logical and easy to follow?
  • How far do you have to scroll to find needed information?
  • Are buttons and boxes large enough?