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What constitutes a credible source?

Being a journalist is not just about interviewing a talent and publishing whatever they say, it’s about using instinct, as well as the tools of verification to determine the authentication and credibility of their talents statements.

A talent may be hiding their own agenda, be bending the truth or have their own bias (this is called a self interested source rather than an independent one). That is why it is the journalist’s job to find out whether the source is a credible one as well as having a range of sources to avoid a bias article.

The source(s) a journalist uses determines the reliability and credibility of the story.

So how can you tell if a source is credible?

The key features that make a source credible are the same for any type of story published on any medium, whether it be broadcast, online or in newspapers and magazines.

There are three defining factors that contribute to a news story’s reliability:

  1.  Verification
  2. Independence
  3. Accountability

Verification is the process that is used to check a story’s credibility and reliability.

When analysing a talents credibility, the journalist should ask themselves whether the talent is a legitimate inclusion in the story. Do they have firsthand knowledge or are they providing second or third hand information? Is the talent willing to be named or do they want to be anonymous? Wanting to remain anonymous can raise red flags in the scale of credibility of their statements. What kind of language is the talent using, do they mostly start their sentences with ‘I think’? If so, it’s an assertive way to speak rather than a verified one and should be monitored.

In conclusion, a credible source is someone who (most of the time) has witnessed an event firsthand, who uses verified language and who has qualifications or a background in what they are discussing. If a talent does not have these key elements then they are not a 100% reliable and credible source. The journalist should then consult an expert to get a second hand opinion or do more research to verify that what they are printing is the truth. It’s a journalist’s responsibility to seek and print the truth to the best of their knowledge.




The Center for News Literacy 2009

 The University of Southern Queensland, ‘News Literacy’ Course.


About alishearer

I am currently a third year journalism student at the University of Southern Queensland. II am completing a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in journalism and doing minors in Communications & Media as well as Creative Writing. This page is to post my articles and news stories so I can get viewers opinions and hopefully become a better writer.


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