Final Essay Question Discussion

Recall the various kinds of misinformation outlined in Method’s chart (one of our earliest sources). After a semester of learning about fake news, which kind of fake news do you think is most damaging? Why?

  • This is a good question because we have used this chart multiple times throughout the class and we have discussed most, if not all, of the items on the chart and it would allow us to think about one particular item and explore it deeper.
  • I would personally go with satire because I find it the most interesting form on misinformation. I would draw back some of my own blog posts regarding satire while also incorporating some new information.
  • I would talk about how even though a main goal of satire is to be funny that it can also be damaging as people will believe satire which leads to the spreading of fake news. With Twitter all it can take is a fake name and profile picture and people will not look for that verified blue check mark.

Why do people neglect to do more research on news in general while all the information and tools are available to them?

  • This is a good question because there are many different ways to approach this so not everyone will have the exact same answer and it is fairly open ended so people will be able to say a lot in regards to the question.
  • I would discuss how people fall into the trap of needing to be the first one to say something or with reporters to be the first one to report something because then all of the attention will go to them. Because of a need to be the first to report breaking news, sometimes reports will sacrifice the potential of having some or all of the facts incorrect in order to get clicks, retweets, shares, etc.
  • Also I could talk about how people will not bother to fact check if an article agrees with their own views. People will just go along with something as long as it agrees with what they believe.

Think like a bot: imagine you are making big money writing fake news. Identify an audience and the cognitive biases you would use to create an effective news article.

  • This is a good question because it is a creative one and it is outside the box while also bringing up something discussed in class.
  • I would discuss my intended audience which would be sports fans and how to target biases with them. Then I would go into more specific details about the different biases/fan bases to target.
  • I would then do an outline of the article that I would do and potentially break down the different parts. Then I would go into some detail about the bot(s).

Based on your opinion, whose job is it to help stop the spread of fake news? (tech companies, journalists, people, bots)

  • I think this is a good question because even though this was already talked about in a class discussion, I feel that there is still more to be talked about with this topic.
  • I would go with people since the viewing public can help stop the spread of fake news by simply not reading it and calling out the journalists that create it. The tech companies can only do so much when it comes to the fake news problem because they cannot just disallow people to post article links.
  • I would also take looks at other sides while also sticking to my view that readers are the leaders in the fight against fake news. I would also reference some articles like this one.

Memes and Politics

Memes have become a popular tool used to spread mis- and disinformation. Especially in politics. This past October, a meme was posted on Facebook regarding U.S. Politician, Elizabeth Warren. The meme insinuated that Warren did not consider the murder of Mollie Tibbetts a “real issue”. Rather, the separation of immigrant families being more important. Although the meme consisted actual quotes from Warren’s interview with CNN, the words from her statement were rearranged with the attempt to spread misleading content.

The Public and Fake News

When it comes to making sure that fake news is not spread, to me the bulk of the responsibility falls on the public.

There is only so much that the social media companies like Facebook and Twitter can do to prevent fake news from spreading. They can make algorithms to hide some stories, but ultimately if someone shares a fake news story it could end up getting shared by thousands of people.

Also, the public is the consumer of news in general and they do share news stories they find interesting. All a journalist does is write the story, but if nobody shares it then fake news cannot be spread. It is up to the public to be a watchdog for the watchdogs in a sense. 

The public needs to make sure what they are reading is actually true and they can do that through paying more attention to the article or researching other articles about the topic they are reading about.

Fake news can be compared to a virus in a way. Someone writing an article that contains fake news is just one person having the virus.

However, a virus cannot be spread if nobody comes into contact with it. Just like with a virus, if nobody comes into contact with fake news and sees it as the truth, then the fake news virus cannot be spread. 

Infographic Project Thoughts

Currently I am not too sure on what I what to do for this inforgraphic. One thing I considered was designing a mini poster with keywords showing what to look for to see if an article contains bias. However, that seems too similar to the ESCAPE bookmark.

Another thought I have is potentially doing something on Colin Karpernick and the ways fake news was used against him. Then again, I run into the issue of the information already being presented since I dealt with that during the group project. Perhaps I could adjust it to something else while still keeping the Colin Karpernick focus.

The way I would want to set up this infographic would be in a small poster format. All I would do is use a typical piece of paper but would do a poster like design with it.

My audience would be people on the edge when it comes to the topic so I would go about using facts from verified sources since they would be trusted by my audience.

In order to get a good topic I will have to do some more research and I will also have to see some more infographics similar to mine to see how I could go about presenting my information.

Overall, I still need a thought out topic but I feel that I am close. As for the infographic I just need to look at more and notice the different ways that information is presented and make sure mine is not the same throughout so that way it is not boring to look at.

News Literacy Project Review

The project that my group did fits in with the topic of news literacy because we took news stories that were biased and broke down what made them biased as well as words to look at in any article to spot potential bias.

With fake news, readers who are not familiar with the way that writers show bias or hook people into believing their stories through certain techniques could use our project to gain a better understanding of how fake news works.

Every one of the members in our group was responsible for researching biased articles of an assigned topic and writing a couple hundred words on how those articles showed bias. My specific topic was Colin Kaepernick for the project.

The aspect that I am most proud of was finding multiple articles to break down because I had some struggles early finding any. Perhaps I am just not good at spotting bias or maybe my research methods were wrong, but whatever the case was I ended up finding some articles.

The proud aspect ties into the challenge, but a challenge that the group faced was when Jack unfortunately came down with the flu which hospitalized him. Jack was the creator of the site and he edited the site and looked up tutorials on Google Sites to ensure the site looked good.

Since he knew the most about the site, I thought that there might be issues with presenting, but Sam as well as Matthew did excellent jobs of explaining the site to people.

In the future I would not make any drastic changes. Maybe doing two subtopics instead of four just so that way the focus is not as divided.


Project Proposal

For my project proposal I am not entirely sure what I would want to do. Preferably I would want to something that involves sports in some aspect but I cannot really come up with anything that sounds like it would be a good project to me.

One thing I thought of was the kneeling/awareness that Colin Kaepernick and how there are some people who do not fully understand why Kaepernick started that.

Some of that can be attributed to news literacy because there are many people who think that the protests are meant to entirely go against the United States of America and that the symbol of kneeling during the national anthem is completely disrespectful.

In actuality, Army veteran and former NFL player Nate Boyer came up with the idea for Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem but still many people think Kaepernick came up with it.

In fact, Kaepernick originally wanted to sit on the bench during the national anthem, which probably would have made slightly less of a statement.

I am not sure how I would go about presenting this topic since talking to people shakes me to my core. Maybe I would want to make a video but I am not experienced with making graphics to put in videos or editing them.

If I somehow become a group leader will probably just need a normal amount of people for the project and would probably not require any funds since making a video would be free of charge to create and upload.

The Most Problematic Form of Fake News

Fake news can take on many different forms from satire, to a missed detail in a report, as well as errors in spelling. All of those forms and more are problematic today due to a certain someone ensuring that nobody forgets the term fake news which means everyone takes a closer look at journalists and news organizations.

The most problematic form of fake news to me is news that is fabricated content, which according to First Draft means “new content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm.”

Fabricated content is similar to satire as both are false, but satire is meant for humor, not to want people to take it as gospel.

I find fabricated content to be the most problematic because of the intent of it for starters. The motivation behind fabricated content is to ensure the story is believable so that way people believe it and then spread the word to others which in turn causes harm to the parties involved in the story.

Especially with the way politics are with the heated debates and wanting to be proven right in arguments, people can fall for these fabricated stories just so that they are seen as correct without even checking anything first.

Second, fabricated content hurts the journalists who are actually going out and getting their facts right in stories and making sure that there is no bias in it. One fabricated story about a topic ruins other reports about that topic because now there is a seed of doubt planted in people’s minds.

Building Trust in your Brand Through Using Metrics

Using metrics, or analytics, can help a journalist, newspaper, news website, etc. build trust with their audience as well as help to get their metrics better. An example can be found in the article Building Trust: What Works for News Organizations.

One example they used of using metrics to build trust was something that USA Today and the Tennessean did where they added an “explain your process” box to their articles which told the audience why the story was being covered and how the story was covered.

Both organizations did a poll to see if the audience saw these articles as more trustworthy, and overall the articles with the box were seen as “better” in a sense.

Trust can improve metrics because if people trust one source of information over another, they will prefer the more trustworthy source because they know they will get verified facts, no (or at least very little) bias, and they will get all sides to the story.

More trust in turn means better metrics because readership will be up, engagement will be up, and positive feedback will be up.

Both of these aspects- building metrics and building trust – can help journalists become better gatekeepers because people will gravitate towards news sources who are popular and also trustworthy.

For example, if a journalist becomes a trusted sources and also has engagement with their audience, they will usually get a blue check mark on Twitter. This blue check mark means they are verified and it also helps if someone tries to impersonate them.

More importantly, to an audience it shows that the journalist is a trusted source of information which can then boost their metrics and trust even more.


Good journalists are needed now more than ever

One way we know what news is is seeing where the news story comes from. For example, when I want to look for news about the Los Angeles Rams, I go to the Twitter pages of Rams reporters such as Rich Hammond and Vincent Bonsignore. Those two men are reporters for the Rams and have access to the team so I trust them more so than someone at ESPN who may just be watching the games but not interacting with the team aside from that.

For political news it seems that people go to the big news companies such as Fox and CNN and big news companies are trusted sources for news by millions of people. Having a respected brand in terms of trust is even more important than ever nowadays due to readers paying closer attention to fact checking than ever before.

We need journalists because they can get information that the average Joe cannot. I could not walk in to the Rams practice facility and get an interview with Sean McVay, but somebody like Rich or Vincent could because they are members of the press who cover the Rams.

Advantages of the third model of gate keeping are that more opinions will be shared and more conversation will be generated about topics of interest. However, some disadvantages are there will definitely be more bias and with that people will be less trustworthy of news since the potential for bias will be bigger than it is now.