There’s nothing particularly new about the phenomenon of “fake news” rather it’s the quantity of unsubstantiated online information that is at our fingertips that makes evaluation so imperative. The online environment gives real fact checkers the tools to do their own checking.
Three strategies separate fact checkers from the rest of us:
• Landing on an unfamiliar site, the first thing checkers did was to leave it. If undergraduates read vertically, evaluating online articles as if they were printed news stories, fact-checkers read laterally, jumping off the original page, opening up a new tab, Googling the name of the organization or its president. Dropped in the middle of a forest, hikers know they can't divine their way out by looking at the ground. They use a compass. Similarly, fact-checkers use the vast resources of the Internet to determine where information is coming from before they read it.
• Second, fact-checkers know it's not about "About." They don't evaluate a site based solely on the description it provides about itself. If a site can masquerade as a nonpartisan think tank when funded by corporate interests and created by a Washington public relations firm, it can surely pull the wool over our eyes with a concocted "About" page.
• Third, fact-checkers look past the order of search results. Instead of trusting Google to sort pages by reliability (which reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how Google works), the checkers mined URLs and abstracts for clues. They regularly scrolled down to the bottom of the search results page in their quest to make an informed decision about where to click first.
from "Why Students Can't Google Their Way to the Truth" By Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/11/02/why-students-cant-google-their-way-to.html
CQ Researcher has pulled together a good summary article about the current trust or mistrust of media. It includes charts, timeline, pro/con essay, and a thorough bibliography on aspects of the issue.