Zimdar’s Classifications

Melissa Zimdars, Professor of Communication and Media at Merrimack College, has developed the following classifications for news sources:

  • Fake News: Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.
  • Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.
  • Extreme Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.
  • Conspiracy Theory: Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories.
  • Rumor Mill: Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.
  • State News: Sources in repressive states (countries) operating under government sanction.
  • Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.
  • Hate News: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.
  • Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.
  • Proceed with Caution: Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification. Political: Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.
  • Credible: Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).

Other Sources on Zimdar

For Zimdars’ extensive list of sources that fall into one or more of the above categories, see the “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources' document.

Some of the sources on Zimdars’ list have posted critical responses to her classification of them.

You can also see her article in The Washington Post, titled “My ‘Fake News List’ Went Viral. But Made-up Stories Are Only Part of the Problem.'