You can figure out who is behind a source of information by reading laterally and finding trusted sources to help you understand who the people and organizations are that are producing this information and what goals they have in producing it.
QUICK LATERAL READING TIP: Using a search engine, search the name of a person or organization that you want to learn more about and then type "wikipedia" next to the name. Ideally, the top result of your search will be a Wikipedia article on the person or organization, which will almost certainly help you understand their background, worldview, and goals and therefore to help you determine if they are trustworthy.
Beyond finding information about sources, we must also answer the question of trust more generally: Who Can You Trust?
You can trust:
One way you can trust a source is if you believe they are forthright in their goals. For example, most news sites, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, make clear the purpose of information by labeling articles as news reports, news analysis, opinion, paid advertisements, or something else. Each of these types of information has a goal. To consider what goals the producers of information might have, you can use the concept of "Info Zones" from the Checkology.org lesson called "Info Zones."
Specifically, the lesson describes six types or "zones" of information, classified according to the goals the information producer might have when producing information:
These categories are not mutually exclusive, and most information will probably have more than one goal. It is not difficult to find sources of information that actually seem to achieve (at least) two goals at once. For example, most news satire shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah are trying to entertain the audience (the primary goal), as well as inform the audience about current events and/or persuade the audience to view current events in a particular way. Another example is a fictional television show whose producers' primary goal is to entertain, but who may also seek to use the show's narrative for social commentary purposes.