The real problem with fake news… is news.

Yesterday, I was asked to appear on a CBC lunchtime call in show to discuss the issue of fake news during election time. Apparently, Vancouver-based polling firm Research Co recently conducted a poll in which two out of five Canadians reported that they had seen “fake news” online. In this case, Research Co defined “fake news” as “stories about current affairs that were obviously false”.

Now we can take Research Co to task for their imprecise definition of fake news here. Many Donald Trump supporters, for example, think that mainstream and reputable news outlets report stories that are “obviously false” and unfortunately, truth seems to rest in the eye of the beholder these days. However, that’s a much longer discussion for another blog post.

What I’d like to do today, is assume that we are seeing false, exaggerated, or misleading news more often than we used to, and I’d like to look at one important driver of misinformation during this particular Canadian election, using the recent rumours about Justin Trudeau, our current Prime Minister as a sort of case study of the ways media manipulators try to bait established media outlets to spread rumour and innuendo.

“This Soup is So Fake” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0 1.0

Continue reading “The real problem with fake news… is news.”

The real problem with fake news… is news.

Language matters: The carbon tax edition

Today is the day the carbon tax takes effect in Canada, and I can’t help but notice it’s also April Fool’s day.

But the carbon tax is not a joke. Instead it’s an attempt, backed by solid economics research (article paywall), to cut greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on the burning of fossil fuels.

Shell Gas Station
“Shell Gas Station” by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC by 2.0

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Language matters: The carbon tax edition

Don’t Trust #CdnMedia – how anti news discourses spread during the last election

Popular opinion is that fake news and distrust of the mainstream media was mostly a problem during the 2016 US election and the ill-fated Brexit vote in the UK. However, before either of these things happened, we actually saw anti-news sentiment in small pockets of Canadian social media chatter. During our last election in 2015 people were beginning to use the hashtag #CdnMedia to criticize mainstream media sources and accuse journalists of working for the Liberal government. As we enter another election year, we may want to learn from what happened before, as I suspect this type of chatter will only become a bigger player in 2019.

Vizrt Kurdsat 1 News @ 6 HD Graphics.
“Vizrt Kurdsat 1 News @ 6 HD Graphics.” by arshan khan is licensed under CC by-nc-nd 4.0

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Don’t Trust #CdnMedia – how anti news discourses spread during the last election

21st Century PR: When All Else Fails, Pretend You’re a Journalist

Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about fake news, biased journalism, and journalists as “very bad people“, the very people complaining the loudest about the press seem to be those who are most adept at manipulating it. Take for example, the current President of the United States, who employs a combination of direct to consumer social media tactics, and also maintains strong relationships with non-professiona,l we-cannot-really-call-them (cough cough) news organizations like infowars, in order to perform the idea of news while supplanting the actual purpose entirely.

A yellow plastic fish caught in a net hangs against a grey cubicle wall
“Fake fish, fake lomo” by Patrick Fitzgerald. CC-BY 2.0. Available from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barelyfitz/34407290

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21st Century PR: When All Else Fails, Pretend You’re a Journalist

Giving Back to Our Communities: An Understated Value of Local News

This is a repost of a blog post I originally contributed to Medium.com, related to my local news research project from 2015-2017.

A large envelope with the text "Please Give Generously" printed on the side
“Generic charity” by Sascha Pohflepp is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Local news outlets contribute more to communities than just access to relevant information. Ryerson Professor, Joyce Smith, has published a paper in The Future of Local News: Research and Reflections that shows how embedded local news outlets have traditionally been in the practice of charitable giving in their communities. Her work details a historical connection between local news and charitable giving, and then touches on the ways that new media technologies have influenced, and in some cases disrupted this relationship.

Local news outlets play a role in their communities that digital replacements have yet to replicate… To read more visit Medium.

Giving Back to Our Communities: An Understated Value of Local News

Is the Presence of a Local News Outlet Enough? Buchanan’s Examination of Hyperlocal News

This post was originally posted to Medium, you can view the original here

One of the key benefits often ascribed to local news is that local news outlets facilitate more hyperlocal reporting. That is to say, the presence of a local news outlet is associated, at least in many people’s minds, with an increased coverage of local stories in a community. But is this correlation true in practice?

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Is the Presence of a Local News Outlet Enough? Buchanan’s Examination of Hyperlocal News

Using Technology to Understand Local News

This post is cross posted from medium.com. You can access the original here.

A map showing changes to local news outlets across Canada
A screen capture from Lindgren and Corbett’s (2018) Local News Map. Available at localnews.geolive.ca

This week marks the one year anniversary of our international conference: Is No Local News Bad News: Local Journalism and Its Future which was sponsored by SSHRC and the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre and held at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. This groundbreaking conference brought together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars, journalists and media entrepreneurs to discuss the importance of local news to communities, the current state of local news around the world, the role of technology in local news, and what the future of local news could look like.

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Using Technology to Understand Local News

What is the Future of Local News?

We see it all across North America and the UK: small local news outlets are shutting down, or are bought out and amalgamated into much larger regional or national outlets. At first this doesn’t seem to be of much consequence. If local news outlets do not make money, perhaps the laws of the marketplace should dictate their demise. And without them, we can perhaps still share the information that is important to our communities using social media platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter, right?

A picture of a couple of local newspapers "The Sunday Times" and "The Sunday Business Post"
“Local Sunday News” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Well maybe the local news situation is actually more complex than we might first think. Maybe there is some information that simply isn’t provided when local news outlets shut down. And maybe social media isn’t picking the slack in all cases, but rather exacerbating the problem. Well I, in partnership with a team of ace researchers from the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre wanted to find out the answers to these questions, so last year, we invited academics around the world to participate in a conference on the subject of local news and it’s future. Then we took the best submitted papers from that conference, along with some student journalism on the subject of Canadian local news, and we put together an interactive online publication: The Future of Local News: Research and Reflections.

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What is the Future of Local News?

Have Publishers Left the Building?

I learned it on Instagram today: The Chive has officially left Facebook.

Ok, well they haven’t fully left. But they will no longer be posting their articles, videos and other content directly to their Facebook page. Instead, they will be sharing links only in Facebook, and the links will take people back to their webpage. The way God Herself intended.

An instagram post announcing the Chive is cutting ties to Facebook
Chive’s Feb 28th post on my Instagram Feed

 

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Have Publishers Left the Building?

Celebrity “trumps” truth: The key difference between the liberal press and Twitter

Today, The Verge published an article stating that Twitter has drawn a small line in the sand with respect to the tweeting habits of the 45 president of the United States. Adi Robertson reports that Twitter has suggested that while it is important not to censor or remove important public figures like the president from the platform, it will draw the line at “tweets that reveal a private address or phone number”. Of course, not all people agree with this stand. For example, Sam Harris clearly stated in a recent podcast that he thinks Trump should be banned from Twitter, since the damage he can do via a Tweet is just so great. Twitter’s response though, is one worth considering. When is it appropriate to silence a public figure on a platform like Twitter? And when is it actually in the public interest to support a person’s right to make even crazy or patently false claims on the site?

A tweet made my Donald Trump in which he complains about fake news
A tweet made by Donald Trump: Picture from “Mother Jones” http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/donald-trump-edits-tweet/

 

 

 

 

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Celebrity “trumps” truth: The key difference between the liberal press and Twitter