Should we consider fake news another form of (not particularly effective) political persuasion — or something more dangerous?

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

“Most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.” Dartmouth’s Brendan Nyhan writes in The New York Times that it isn’t that easy to change people’s votes in an election, in an Upshot post titled “Fake news and bots may be worrisome, but their political power is overblown.” When we’re trying to evaluate “claims about vast persuasion effects from dubious online content,” Nyhan writes, we should actually be looking at three things: 1) How many people actually saw the material; 2) Whether the people exposed are persuadable/swing voters; and 3) the percentage of bogus news as a percentage of all news viewed.

$2.31/week: That’s about what you’ll pay for a digital newspaper subscription these days

It doesn’t really matter where you live or how large your local newspaper’s circulation is: The average price for a digital newspaper subscription is $2.31 per week, according to a new report from the American Press Institute. API research fellow Tracy M. Cook looked at pricing of digital subscriptions to 100 newspapers across the U.S. in October 2017. The median price across the papers: $2.31 per week, or about $10 per month or $120 per year. (That’s actually down slightly from a 2016 API report that pegged the average weekly price of a digital newspaper subscription at $3.11 per week, across 77 papers. For this new data set, the average price was $2.44/week. The median price excludes special introductory offers, as well as bundles like The Washington Post’s partnerships with Amazon and Hulu and The New York Times’ with Spotify. Cook also notes that digital
Continue reading "$2.31/week: That’s about what you’ll pay for a digital newspaper subscription these days"

Facebook’s Campbell Brown: “This is not about us trying to make everybody happy”

Campbell Brown, who heads Facebook’s news partnerships team, and Adam Mosseri, Facebook VP of News Feed, took the stage at Recode’s Code Media conference Monday to discuss, oh, the company that we all think about all the time now. A few key bits from the Recode panel: Campbell Brown: Facebook is “having a point of view and leaning into quality news…taking a step to try to define what quality news looks like, and give that a boost.” This will be done partly through much-discussed crowdsourced rankings. Mosseri insisted “it’s not about being objective or subjective; it’s about where we have values and where we are clear about them and how we pursue them, and, obviously, debating that.” This sounds…subjective? But “we’re never gonna weigh in, for instance, on one ideological view over another or one political view over another.” He also said that “what
👌🏾
Continue reading "Facebook’s Campbell Brown: “This is not about us trying to make everybody happy”"

Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”: How Jason Kottke is thinking about kottke.org at 20

In 2013, Jason Kottke wrote a prediction for Nieman Lab’s year-end roundup: “The blog is dead, long live the blog.” Kottke was then (and still is) owner of one of the longest continuously running blogs on the web: kottke.org, founded in 1998. “Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice,” he wrote. “Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.” Kottke.org, however, is decidedly still a blog. It also celebrates its twentieth birthday this year. I spoke with Kottke about the Continue reading "Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”: How Jason Kottke is thinking about kottke.org at 20"

The far-right sharing fake news — or conservatives sharing conservative journalism?

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

Who shares the most “junk news”? (But “junk news” ≠ fake news.) Trump supporters and the far right: That’s according to a report out this week from the Computational Propaganda Project at the University of Oxford. But be careful of definitions here! Over three months leading up to Trump’s State of the Union Address this past January, Oxford researchers looked at “the distribution of posts and comments on public pages that contain links to junk news sources, across the political spectrum in the U.S. We then map the influence of central sources of junk political news and information that regularly publish content on hot-button issues in the U.S.” Note the use Continue reading "The far-right sharing fake news — or conservatives sharing conservative journalism?"

ProPublica and WNYC are launching an investigative Trump podcast that pulls in the crowd

“We’re starting with questions, and we want you to join us in the quest for answers”: On Wednesday, ProPublica and WNYC dropped the first episode of Trump Inc., a podcast that, over 12 weekly episodes, will aim to delve into the mysteries of Donald Trump’s businesses. Eric Umansky, ProPublica’s deputy managing editor, and Andrea Bernstein, WNYC News’ senior editor for politics and policy, explained in a post:
We’re thinking of it as an “open investigation.” We’ll be laying out what we know and what we don’t. And we’re inviting everyone — our journalism colleagues elsewhere, experts, tipsters and anyone else interested — to join us in the quest for answers…. You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely. You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org. And finally, you can use the postal Continue reading "ProPublica and WNYC are launching an investigative Trump podcast that pulls in the crowd"

Crowdsourcing trusted news sources can work — but not the way Facebook says it’ll do it

On January 19, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained how the company planned to decide which news sources it would prioritize in the (now with less news!) News Feed. “We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” he wrote. This plan — in which users would be asked two questions: Whether they were familiar with a given news source, and how much they trusted it — was largely greeted with skepticism. “A reporter emailed me, like, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ and I started with a list of all the reasons that it seemed like a pretty terrible idea,” said David Rand, associate professor of psychology at Yale and the coauthor, with Gordon Pennycook, of much of the most-discussed research into fake news that’s been released in the past year or so. “Then I realized this
Continue reading "Crowdsourcing trusted news sources can work — but not the way Facebook says it’ll do it"