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WRI 216 - Writing for Public Relations: Web Sites

Guide for WRI 216 students searching for company/nonprofit organization information.

Evaluating Web Content

 The amount of information available on the WWW is staggering.  Unfortunately much of this information has not been reviewed for authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, or completeness.  The burden of evaluation falls on you, the reader.

Authority:

  • Is it clear who is responsible for the Web page?
  • Is it clear who wrote the material?  Are their credentials clearly stated?
  • If the material is copyrighted, is the name of the copyright holder given?

Accuracy:

  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so that verification is possible?
  • Is the information clear of blatant grammatical, spelling and/or other typographical errors?
  • If there are graphs or charts are they clearly labeled?  Is source information given?

Objectivity:

  • What is the purpose of providing the information?  (Public service, profit, or persuasion)
  • Is the information free of advertising?
  • If there is advertising is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?

Currency:

  • Are there dates on the page indicating when it was written or last revised?
  • Are there indications that the material is kept current?

Coverage:

  • Is there an indication that the page has been completed and is not still under construction?

 

(These criteria are based on checklists in the book Web Wisdom: How to Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate)

Web Sites

Non-profit Research

  • Guidestar - financial and other information about 501(c)3 organizations.

Code Books – system developed by government to classify companies.

 

Company Financials

Reports

  • SEC reports—company financial reports submitted to the Security and Exchange Commission.

Rankings

Forbes Magazine publishes several rankings of companies and individuals, including their annual directory of the 500 largest U.S. companies, the 500 largest privately held companies, the 200 best small companies, the top CEO's, and the 400 wealthiest people in the U.S. You can access these Forbes' lists from the magazine's website (http://www.forbes.com/).  These rankings are also available in Hoover's Company Profiles.