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Getting reliable information: how we can help

Four shields set out in a square: green with a tick, red with an exclamation mark, yellow with a smiling face and grey with the letter I. Above them, the NewsGuard logo.
27 May 2021

Do you ever wonder if the information you’re reading on the internet is reliable? Is the information provider committed to giving you the truth, or do they have an axe to grind? Does their headline intend to deceive? Are they paid by those interested in peddling a false narrative?

At Essex Library Services, we’re committed to helping you assess how reliable online news sources are and spot misinformation. For this reason, we’re providing the NewsGuard browser tool on every public computer in our libraries. (NewsGuard is a US company, founded by veteran journalists.) At a glance – or, for more information, with the click of a mouse - you can access reviews of thousands of news and information websites. These reviews appear next to search results on the public computers.

NewsGuard analysts, who are trained journalists, rate websites using nine basic, non-political criteria. These criteria include:

  • avoiding publishing false content repeatedly
  • regularly correcting or clarifying errors
  • avoiding deceptive headlines
  • disclosing ownership and management

NewsGuard awards points for each criterion and sums them up. A score of less than 60 earns a “red” rating, while 60 or more earns a “green” rating, indicating it is generally reliable. NewsGuard identifies satirical websites by using a yellow shield. It identifies platforms that rely on user-generated content (such as YouTube and Wikipedia) with a grey shield.

Essex Library Services continues to make all web content available, but we now provide context to help customers evaluate it.