Chapter 4: Media Bias, Information Cycles, Misinformation, and Spotting Fake News

Media Bias

The first thing to keep in mind when reviewing a source is media bias. Bias may not always be blatant or obvious, it is important to review research and articles analytically. It can also be beneficial to read articles that represent different sides and perspectives. Here are the seven types of media bias and a bit about each of them.

  1. Sources: Ask yourself, “Who benefits from this? Who funded it?” Does the article balance the types of sources they use? Do they cite sources at all? How does the author label their sources?
  2. Omission: Does the article tell both sides of the story? Does it leave out a specific perspective? Is the the topic only covering right-leaning or left-leaning media? This form of bias may be harder to spot if you are unfamiliar with the story.
  3. Loaded Language: There are two types of loaded language: purr and snarl. Purr means the language used evokes a pleasant, warm feeling in the reader. Snarl words provoke anger.
  4. Mind Reading: Does the author of the article propose to know what is going on in the mind of someone they haven’t interviewed?
  5. Opinions: Does the article present opinions as facts?
  6. Flawed Logic: Does the article jump to conclusions that are unfounded?
  7. Spin: Does the writer add their own slant to the facts to make them sound positive or negative?

Information Cycles

Information is produced and distributed according to a general pattern, sometimes called “Information Cycles”. If you know these patterns and know which types of information sources are the most appropriate for any given assignment, it is likely that you will be more successful in finding what you need.

Please review the slides below to learn more about information cycles. Select the double-pointed arrow in the bottom right corner to expand the slides to full screen.



There are seven types of misinformation. There may be potential overlap in some areas, but all are relevant to how research is conducted.



For more information on how to spot misinformation, view this short video on Spotting Fake News:


Vetting Your Research

There is often a “vetting process” involved within the context of a news media story. “Vetting” means that the content has been verified for accuracy and is ready to be shared publicly for use and application. If anyone moves too quickly to release information or a story before the vetting process is complete, it is possible that the information is inaccurate or incomplete. Examples may include but are not limited to: media outlets competing for a breaking story on who won an election, the verdict in a court case, or even a celebrity death. Sometimes the race to publish leads them to report an outcome that was incorrect.

When you have settled on a topic, you are ready to search for scholarly information to see what the experts are saying about the topic. It takes anywhere from six months to a year for a scholarly resource to be published, because it needs to be reviewed by other experts for accuracy and credibility. When research is based on peer-reviewed journal articles, your research reflects those same expert qualities of authority, accuracy, and credibility. Please select the double-pointed arrow in the upper right corner to enlarge to full screen.


References for Remixed Content:

PALNI (2022, June 3). Information cycles and communication sources. PALNI Information Literacy Modules.

PALNI (2022, June 3). Misinformation and media bias. PALNI Information Literacy Modules.

Washington State University (2022, June 7). Newspaper and news. Washington State University Library.



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Graduate Research Prep by Andrea Bearman and Jill Noyes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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