, , ,

“We know that something strange is going on out there” (Andersen, 2015).

Using the Criteria to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources website to analyze the accuracy of a news article source, I have found that the credibility of an article lies within the text’s leading sources, the news publication’s network goals and most importantly, the journalist’s motives. The article used this week to partake in the class discussion this week on blog sources, credibility and social media is utilized through the Huffington Post, a known “electronic version of a credible print publication” (Helpful Hints, 1988) journalistic news site, is one many individuals chose as a “go-to” when receiving their daily breaking news.

The Most Mysterious Star In Our Galaxy article, written by Ross Andersen, on the front page of the Huffington Post new site, writes about extraterrestrial civilizations that scientists and astronomers believe exist on a distant star in our solar system. Andersen (2015) uses three sources in his article about a distant star. Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale, Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ross Andersen, author of the article, writes about the three scientists coming up with their own published scholarly work about the mystery star. Together, “they want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity” (Andersen, 2015).

The criteria to identifying credible sources in this week’s blog post suggests that “though many search engines rank material according to their idea of what is relevant, that doesn’t mean the material is relevant to want you want or is reliable” (Helpful Hints, 1988).

I consider this as I begin validifying the sources used in this article by Andersen (2015), I plugged in each source’s name into a search engine. Wishing to yield the most professional results first, I accessed Google Scholar as a way to dictate if the research being performed was indeed accurate. Tabetha Boyajian, was “verified email at yale.edu” with over 1322 cited articles with her name and scholarly work with astrophysics attached. In addition, Boyajian’s name appears on the department of astronomy at Yale University’s official educational site. Delving in deeper, I access the attached web page to Boyajian’s department page at Yale: http://www.astro.yale.edu/tabetha/Site/Welcome. This site shows me that this “Astronomer Royale” is in her postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. Boyajian’s research is discussed on her publications page that proves her scholarly work is credible and describes exactly what Andersen’s (2015) article on the “characterization of exoplanet host stars” (Bovajian, 2015) was about. By thoroughly checking into not just a search engine but going deeper into each site to eventually find the astronomer’s own personal page is as credible as it gets.

I followed the same routine for following the criteria to evaluate WWW sources to articulate the two other sources used in Andersen’s (2015) article. Jason Wright and Andrew Siemion are too apart of their University’s department of Astronomy pages. In addition, linked just like Bovajian’s, is each scholar’s education background and peer-reviewed literature by the astronomers which aims to solidify that these are in fact accurate sources that can make the claims made in Andersen’s article.

As mentioned, the sources accurately found credible to the article is important to the article’s background information and claims. However, just as significant is the journalist’s views and history within the content being written. The criteria to evaluate WWW sources articulates that a viewer must identify evidence that the author of the article has “some authority in the field about which she or he is providing information” (Helpful Hints, 1988).

Ross Andersen (2015), author of the article, has a blurb written about himself in the bottom right hand corner of the article itself. The “About the Author” section declares that “Ross Andersen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Science, Technology, and Health sections. He was previously deputy editor of Aeon Magazine” (Huffington Post, 2015). Seeing here that Andersen (2015) writes for a publication called The Atlantic gives me, as the reader, insight to his qualifications, credentials and connections to the subject being written about. To go further into validifying Andersen’s credentials, I found his publications on The Atlantic and his own personal website:http://www.rossandersen.com/. This website shows a solar system with the literature Andersen (2015) has written on a separate tab. Andersen’s (2015) title as a “senior editor” shows that he has experience, and the research he has done in his published publications prove that he has passion and reliable sources in each article written. Knowing this information validifies my own skepticism that Andersen (2015) writes about a topic he is familiar with, and uses credible sources to provide strength to the content in his articles.

After performing this criteria evaluation on the article ““The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy” and performing my own extensive research on credibility on the World Wide Web I have found that trusting information originating from “non-professionals” such as bloggers very difficult. As Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) mentioned, now that individuals have the access to information instantly, one can provide false answers. Having to then sift through more facts to access credible information is a skill I do not believe bloggers and other social media users utilize to their full potential to find accuracy. Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) agree that “if information is coming quickly and over abundantly, knowledge, paradoxically, is harder to come by” (p. 47). The spread of information through social media and other WWW sites allows for abundant knowledge. But if that knowledge is not being “backed up” by credible sources and journalists, what are we truly gaining?

Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) assert to viewers of all forms of news content to “look for journalism that has the humility to ask questions that cannot yet be answered, that acknowledges what it does not know, and that does not infer conclusions it cannot prove (p. 63). Andersen (2015) does this exact form of journalism by confirming that the news reporting he has done on this “mystery star” is not yet concluded. Andersen (2015) recognizes that the research being done is still ongoing- “we will have to content ourselves with longing looks at the sky, aimed between the swan and the lyre, where maybe, just maybe, someone is looking back, and seeing the sun dim ever so slightly, every 365 days” (Andersen, 2015).


Andersen, R. http://www.rossandersen.com/. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.

Andersen, R. (2015, October 13). “The most mysterious star in our galaxy.” The Huffington Post. Retrieved from  http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/the-most-interesting-star-in-our-galaxy/410023/ on October 14, 2015.

Bovajian, T. http://www.astro.yale.edu/tabetha/Site/Welcome.html. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.

Helpful Hints to Help You Evaluate the Credibility of Web Resources. (1988). Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). How to Know What to Believe Anymore. In Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury.