At this point I became skeptical. I began to question the creditability of the news report not only because I was unfamiliar with TMZ.com, but also because the name sounds unreliable.
I followed the link offered by Fox News to see what I could learn about TMZ.com. The website appears to be a gossip site, featuring a “Got a Tip” text box in the top left corner of the home page. Clearly, TMZ.com is asking its readers for gossip tips. I no longer believed the report.
As it turns out, CNN and MSNBC are also reporting on the story. So the scandal (as journalist say) may have ‘legs’ after all.
But that isn’t the point.
The point is that because Fox News cited TMZ.com as its source, I, the reader, doubted the information presented to me. Only after careful consideration of other sources did I confirm that the story may be credible (although low-brow).
When students write papers,they cannot presuppose that their audience will take the time that I did with the Elmo story (especially since embedded links aren’t possible in print form). Students must use credible sources when writing. Not only do the sources need to be credible, but they must sound creditable to the intended audience.
If a student were to write a serious paper exploring the rate of anorexia and poor body image mentality on college campuses, using a source like cheezeburger.com is a poor and insensitive idea even if the information gathered was pertinent.
If a student decided to write on the credibility of today’s political leaders and cited bamboozled.org as a source of information, an unintended response from a reader maybe laughter.
When gathering information, a student’s priority should not be the easiest place to get it. Instead, one should consider these tips from Purdue OWL.
Using these tips will undoubtedly improve the context and creditability of a paper. Fox News and other news outlets may benefit from Purdue’s advice as well."What type of sources does your audience value? If you are writing for a professional or academic audience, they may value peer-reviewed journals as the most credible sources of information. If you are writing for a group of residents in your hometown, they might be more comfortable with mainstream sources, such as Time or Newsweek. A younger audience may be more accepting of information found on the Internet than an older audience might be.”