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SIFT: Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace: Find Better Coverage


Sometimes, after you investigate the source, you'll find that the source is sufficient for your needs. However, this is not always the case. Maybe the quality of the source is low or it doesn’t adequately answer the questions you have.  

This is when you would find better coverage. If you can’t determine the reliability of the source and you want to get an accurate story on the subject or claim, your best strategy is to start searching elsewhere.

Below is a video (4:28) explaining this process in more detail.

Find Better Coverage: Example

Celebrity death hoaxes are a simple example of when you would find better coverage. They happen from time to time and it is very easy to check if something is a death hoax or not.

You might see this article someone shared on social media of Keanu Reeve’s death.


If Keanu Reeves was in fact dead, a simple search of “Keanu Reeves dead” would probably yield a lot of news coverage when you hit enter. But that isn’t the case. As of when this was written, he is still alive and well.

Question for Reflection: Why do you think so many otherwise smart people make errors when it comes to death hoaxes? What are the emotional drivers? What are the social incentives that push people not to check?

Search Strategy: Click Restraint

Click restraint: a term introduced by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew to describe a behavior fact-checkers exhibit that less skilled people do not. Fact-checkers scan multiple results to try and find the particular result that combines trustworthiness with relevance before they click, often visiting the second page of search results.

The video below (2:20) released by Stanford History Education Group shows you more about click restraint. 

Search Strategy: Reverse Image Search

Sometimes (many times!) claims or stories will come to you in the form of images. If you want to find trusted coverage of the issue, claim, or photo, you have a couple options:

  • You can search on some relevant text from the image, if, for example it is a meme or a supposed photograph of a sign
  • You can use reverse image search. We show you how to do this in Google Chrome below, but other browsers have similar methods.

Below is a video (3:07) that walks you through how to reverse image search.

Further Reading

Notebook Exercises: Find Better Coverage


SIFT Prompt: ATM Rats
SIFT Discussion: ATM Rats


SIFT Discussion: John Lennon's Murderer?


Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. We ask people copying this course to leave this note intact, so that students and teachers can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. We also ask librarians and reporters to consider linking to the canonical version.

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