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JOUR202 - News Editing

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

When Searching the Internet...

Keep in mind the following when you search the Internet:

  • Finding something is the easy part
  • Finding something good is the challenge
  • Evaluation is knowing the difference

Evaluation Criteria Overview

A number of criteria have been identified to assist in locating credible sources of information.

These are frequently grouped into the following categories:

  • Authority/Accuracy
  • Purpose and Content
  • Currency
  • Design/Organization/Ease of Use

Evaluating Web Resources

Web resources may help you connect with useful information on your topic. Be sure to evaluate the authority and reliability of all information found on the Internet. This guide may help you:

Website Evaluation Examples

Review the example website assigned to your group using the criteria discussed in class:

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?

Further Reading