Reliable or not? How to identify credible journalistic sources

Updated on

As part of the series “How do we make information”, the result of a collaboration between Agence Science-Presse and École branchée, we are now focusing on journalistic sources. Zoom in on those who are making things happen and changing the world, one scoop at a time.

ATTENTION: If you are browsing the English version of our site, you will probably see an automatic translation of this guide. 😱 You can change the language from the menu in the header of the site or consult our English language guides here.

The main activities aim to:


As part of the series “How do we make information”, the result of a collaboration between Agence Science-Presse and École branchée, we are now focusing on journalistic sources. Journalistic sources are the very origin of important news that changes the world and makes things happen. Who does not remember an impressive statement found on the web or in the pages of a newspaper? Who has never been upset by a poignant, touching, angry testimony?

👀 Background

The sources are directly related to the reliability of a news and to the quality of the journalistic work. Knowing how to assess their credibility comes down to determining at the same time the credibility of an article. The rumor detector from Agence Science-Presse or the Decryptors of Radio-Canada are experts in dealing with credible and non-credible sources that spread on social networks. They set the record straight and tell you the truth, among other things, on everything related to COVID-19. It is important, even essential, in the context of the current crisis, to choose credible sources of information when the time comes to inform yourself, such as Radio-CanadaLa PresseThe newsScience-Press Agency or École branchée.

Journalists who therefore want to be credible take care to respect the guide to ethics (set of rules and duties governing a profession) of the Quebec Press Council concerning the use of sources. See the excerpt below to learn a bit more about the source framework. You can also go just here to consult the entire code of ethics.

11. Reliability of information transmitted by sources

Journalists take reasonable steps to assess the reliability of information transmitted by their sources, in order to guarantee the public quality information.

12. Identification of sources

Les journalistes identifient leurs sources d’information afin de permettre au public d’en évaluer la valeur, sous réserve des dispositions prévues à l’article 12.1 du présent Guide.

12.1 Use of anonymous sources

(1) Journalists turn to anonymous sources when these three conditions are met:
-information serves the public interest;
-the information cannot reasonably be obtained otherwise;
-the source may suffer harm if his identity is revealed.

(2) When guaranteeing anonymity to a source of information, journalists sufficiently describe the source in their report so that the public can appreciate the value and the credibility of this source, without however disclosing elements that could allow its identification. .

Quebec Press Council

*You can download, by clicking here, an infographic that can help your students easily distinguish a reliable journalistic source from one that is not.



At the end of these activities, the student will be able to recognize credible journalistic sources.

Disciplines and levels targeted
– French (2nd cycle of secondary)
Read and enjoy a variety of texts
Make a critical judgment: take a step back from the text by relying on cultural and media references (recognition of a source by the scientific or journalistic community, editorial line of a media, etc.) which confirm the credibility or receivable from a source or information.

Suggested digital tools

  • Can go
  • Screen capture and PDF annotation functions

Objectives of the activities

  • Identify primary and secondary sources in an article.
  • Recognize reliable journalistic sources.
  • Avoid the pitfalls of misleading information.

☝️ ACTIVITÉ : À la conquête de la vérité sur le Web!

🤖 Demandez à vos élèves s’ils ont déjà discuté avec un « chat bot ». Il s’agit de robots virtuels qui adaptent leurs réponses et conversent de façon interactive en fonction de ce qu’on leur écris.

As a result, the Décrypteurs team has created thematic workshops to better equip them against fake news circulating on the Web through a discussion with a “chat bot”.

Students can go here to “chat” with Alexis De Lancer (dialogue robot version), the host of the program Décrypteurs, who will guide them in their interactive journey to conquer the truth on the Web.

☝️ ACTIVITÉ : Les sources journalistiques

On the menu of this activity sheet:

  • Exercise 1: From the following fictional excerpts, identify the sources and their relevance to the topics covered. Can you trust them? Why or why not?
  • Exercise 2: Read the following scenarios. If you were a journalist, who would you want to talk to? Which sources would be most relevant? Name at least two per scenario.


Through eight pedagogical sheets, students will be put in the shoes of a journalist and carry out activities specially created to enlighten them on various facets of news production in the age of social networks. 

The design of the various educational sheets was made possible thanks to the collaboration between theScience-Press Agency and École branchée. Each sheet contains a theoretical part on a specific subject relating to the production of information, in addition to activities that tend to develop various disciplinary and digital skills in the student.

Check out the other guides in this special feature:

Sheet #1: Information vs opinion

Sheet #2: How to recognize a reliable news site

Sheet #4: Confirmation bias

Sheet #5: How to recognize hidden advertising

Sheet #6: News media

File #7: Scientific information

Sheet #8: Disinformation


To get the suggestions for educational activities, you must subscribe to SCOOP! or be a staff member of a member institution!

Add to favorites (0)

Search for activities >

The search engine allows you to search by keyword, level, learning area, discipline and dimension of digital competence.

Back to the home page >

Browse the latest resource and activity guides and find those that are still current.

SCOOP! this is...

Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

You are browsing in guest mode!

Subscribe or to hide ads and see lesson activities!

Don't miss new guides

Receive an email alert (in French) when something new is published on SCOOP! :

Planning with SCOOP!

Other SCOOP! activity guides and resources to discover