This the title of an article in this months edition of " Wired." I think it sums up quite succinctly the reason why we as journalists need to be highly suspect of Internet search results. As the article by firstname.lastname@example.org points out, " kids know how to Google- they just can't tell when the results are crap." (pg.062)
In his piece Thompson cites a study done by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan. Pan and his team gathered a group of students and asked them to search. Not surprisingly students often relied on top results on a Google page. He then switched around the order of the results and students still used the top rated results. And in almost every case the students, most of whom are " digital natives", failed to do the most basic things, like checking an authors credentials or examining where the item came from.
The bottom line of the piece is students aren't being given the most basic instruction on how to separate the " wheat from the chaff" on the Internet.The article suggests by the time students are in college most professors expect them to know this, but why? Its not as though this is a skill that's taught in most schools. And the article goes on to say it's not just the URL but also the tone of the piece that should be looked at.
Not unlike what we were asked to do on our recent mid-term. In the world of online reporting perhaps " crap detection" is one of the most important skills we can have.
The author notes that's especially true at a time that the lines between news and infotainment are becoming quite blurred.