Challenge friends and family to become “Fake news! Fake news!” sleuths

By Sharon Dunten and SPJ staff for SPJ Ethics Week

Sleuth art

As a journalist you hear these words being screamed on the TV and see them on social media timelines nonstop these days. And you can spot fake news pretty easily. You are by nature a fake news sleuth. But the normal reader of the news isn’t so lucky. So, let’s try to help them become amateur fake news sleuths by giving them the resources and links to investigate if something is “fake.”

I believe most people do not want to spread fake news on purpose. So, let arm them with the skills to differentiate between “what is real and and what is fake.” Sometimes it just starts with a lot of sleuth-like questions, “What does this phrase really mean on a post, and how can I be sure I not helping spread false information from less-than-credible sources?”

magnifiying glassAlso, help friends and family not be become part of the problem. Help them find tools and tips on how to identify everything from satire to opinion pieces to ethical news.

Help them to become one of the most media-savvy consumers — and sharers — of information …  and become bloodhounds for fake news! Ask friends and family to share the distinctive art below on their social media and start educating others on how to spot the fake stuff.

SPJ facts fake news

Tools for Fact Checking

private detectives cartoonStart by having them ask themselves this question: How do you know if the story you just read is true? They definitely want to be armed with facts at their next family gathering so they can set Uncle John straight on what his candidate really stands for?  They might actually enjoy making sure that their private detective way of thinking will lead to sources for accurate and ethical journalism, ya know … a true asset of a fake news sleuth. 

Share these sites of fact-checking resources and ask them to keep them handy. Encourage family and friends to refer to them often. But make sure they are not so tight-fisted and to share this critical information:

If you follow these simple suggestions, you will recruit a new arsenal of sleuths who embrace truth, justice and the true American way of good journalism now and in the future. 

Sharon Dunten mug
Sharon Dunten

– Sharon Dunten is editor of and SPJ Region 3 Assistant Regional Director. She is a freelance journalist/photojournalist at Dunten Media Services LLC.