April fooling: The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists once got a call from a reporter asking if it would be ethical to write an April Fools’ Day story in the tradition of the late hoaxer George Plimpton. See the advice here.
The truth sandwich: Repeating a lie helps it to live on, writes Craig Newmark.
“I predict that, in 2019, news organizations will start to institute new reporting methods to avoid being complicit. Tactics may include adopting the ‘truth sandwich,’ which means covering a lie by presenting the truth first and then following that lie with a fact-check, as well as increasing newsroom capacity to check claims for accuracy in real time, prior to publishing a story.”
Spotting fake Facebook posts: Keith Collins and Sheera Frenkel report that Facebook discovered hundreds of fake pages and user accounts this summer.
The New York Times reporters show real and deceptive posts, asking if you can tell which is fake. It isn’t easy.
The latest influence campaigns imitated post by legitimate pages and groups on Facebook that advocate political beliefs, they report, “amking it difficult to tell what was a genuine post and what was not.” Such campaigns also are known as online disinformation.
Guarding against deepfakes: Nicholas Diakopoulos writes that a media synthesis algorithm generates convincing but fake video.
“Dire as the case may be, it could offer a great comeback opportunity for mainstream media,” writes Diakopoulos. Trained journalists can act as validators and assessors of mediated reality the public can trust.
By Casey Bukro
NewsGuard Technologies is recruiting veteran journalists to fight fake news by color-coding 7,500 news and information websites and video channels in the United States green, yellow and red.
A red rating goes to purveyors of consistently and intentionally false information or propaganda.
Now in the process of recruiting and training qualified journalists to be NewsGuard analysts, the enterprise, based in New York and Chicago, will begin operating in time for the mid-term elections in November.
The 7,500 news sources targeted account for 98 percent of the news articles read and shared in the English language online in the United States. After launching in the U.S., NewsGuard will expand to serve billions of people globally who get news online.
“Our goal is to help solve this (fake news) problem now by using human beings – trained, experienced journalists – who will operate under a transparent, accountable process to apply basic common sense to a growing scourge that clearly cannot be solved by algorithms,” said co-founder Steven Brill, longtime journalist and media entrepreneur.
The founders raised $6 million to launch NewsGuard.
In addition to color-coding websites or online publications, NewsGuard plans to issue Nutrition Labels that will explain the history of the site, what it attempts to cover, who owns it and who edits it. The labels also will reveal financing, notable awards or mistakes, whether the publisher upholds transparency standards or repeatedly is found at fault.
Two NewsGuard analysts will independently review and rate each site or online publication. One will draft the Nutrition Label and the other will edit it. The public can access these reviews to see why publishers got the green, yellow or red ratings.
Any disagreement between the two analysts is resolved by NewGuard’s senior editorial officers, including Brill, cofounder Gordon Crovitz, former Wall Street Journal publisher, James Warren, former Chicago Tribune managing editor and Eric Effron, former Legal Times editor and publisher.
Warren is NewsGuard’s executive editor and Effron is managing editor.
The lead investor in NewsGuard, among 18 investors, is Publicis Groupe, based in Paris. It is a French multinational advertising and public relations company, and the oldest and one of the largest marketing and communications companies in the world, by revenue.
The case for shunning hacked emails: Nathaniel Zelinsky calls for a “responsible journalism pledge” to prevent Russian from meddling in U.S. elections.
“Most reporters distance themselves from questions about the origin of information, so long as it remains verifiable, while tech companies tend to believe no one should restrict access to information on the internet,” he writes. “But at this particularly dangerous point in our nation’s history, reporters and Facebook alike just might be willing to embrace a new ethical obligation out of a sense of civic duty.”
Is buying Twitter followers unethical?
News organizations rarely confronted that question before, writes Paul Fahi. The New York Times found the practice is widespread, and the Chicago Sun-Times suspended its movie critic for padding his follower count.
A critic says a falsified follower count is like a newspaper inflating its circulation figures.
Journalists take note, people lie: Elizabeth Toledo tells how journalists and news organizations can avoid falling victim to ambush videos intended to discredit or humiliate them.
By Casey Bukro
Powerful men often have a way with words, although not always in the way we might expect.
Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago was famous for malapropisms, often saying the opposite of what he meant. He was Chicago’s powerful mayor for 21 years, and an example for journalists taking measure of Donald J. Trump.
Daley was the undisputed Democratic kingmaker in Illinois and beyond until his death in 1976, both feared and respected. Daley was a force in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential victory, leaving lingering hints of vote fraud. A dressing down by Daley could leave his underlings in pools of sweat.
But his speech was sometimes tangled and mangled, often while he was agitated or angry. Such as the time he was talking about the battle being waged by police against street violence during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
“Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all,” the mayor said. “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
By Casey Bukro
Fake news might have proved more interesting to readers than the factual stuff.
This sobering thought has churned angst over whether social-media falsehoods contributed to Donald Trump’s presidential victory, not to mention whether the upset win could have been foreseen.
News consumers tend to believe reports that support their personal beliefs — an effect that psychologists call confirmation bias. People like to believe they’re right. In the election run-up, they clicked their way across the internet to prove it.
As President-elect Trump selects the people who’ll help him govern, observers are picking through the rubble trying to understand the forces behind a Republican victory. Here our concern is news-media accuracy and ethics.
Let’s start with something basic. What is fake news?
“Pure fiction,” says Jackie Spinner, assistant professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, appearing on WTTW-Channel 11 in Chicago in a “Chicago Tonight” program devoted to separating fact from fiction in internet news feeds.
“It’s something made up,” adds Spinner. “It’s fake.”
But as the WTTW program points out, “fake news is on the rise, and it’s real news.” Some false reports, such as campaign endorsements from Pope Francis, survived many a news cycle.
Continue reading Fake News Trumps True News