Soft power — not government censorship — is the key to fighting disinformation and “fake news”

In many countries over the past few years, the political process — and social cohesion — have been threatened by various forms of disinformation, sometimes misleadingly and inadequately called “fake news.” Politically-motivated and for-profit disinformation is blamed, among other things, for the U.K.’s decision to vote to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. Disinformation takes many forms and is driven by many factors. Foreign states sometimes try to subvert other countries’ political processes. People publish false and fabricated information masquerading as news for profit. Domestic politicians lie to their own people — and sometimes these lies are amplified by news media, by hyper-partisan activists, or spread far and wide via social media and other platforms. These different problems are serious — and many have called on public authorities to tackle them. The question is how? Only a small part of
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Netizen Report: In Leaked Docs, European Commission Says Tech Companies Should Self-Regulate on Harmful Speech

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. In the wake of public panic surrounding a spike in threats of violence and hate speech online, the European Commission has been preparing new recommendations on how member states should address “illegal online content.” Although they have not been officially submitted, a leaked draft of the recommendations has begun to circulate and is now accessible on the website of European Digital Rights, a coalition group of civil society and human rights groups dedicated to protecting free speech and privacy online. The draft suggests that the Commission will not propose new regulations, but rather envisions private companies like Facebook and Google taking greater responsibility for these issues voluntarily. In a brief analysis of the recommendations, EDRi’s Joe McNamee writes: “On the basis of no new analyses, no new data and
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Here’s how Google is thinking about surfacing paywalled news organizations in search

Hey, Google — how do we solve the news industry’s various revenue problems? Google gave a preview of some features it’s been working on and thinking about regarding its support for subscription news organizations at its Digital News Initiative Summit on Thursday (on the same day it also rolled out a built-in adblocker in its Chrome browsers). The search platform and digital advertising giant also announced that it would be opening its fifth round of DNI funding at the end of this month; the theme of the upcoming round will be diversifying revenue models. Most relevant for the increasing number of news publishers focusing on getting readers to pay for subscriptions is how Google intends to treat publishers with paywalls. It’s already ended the longtime first-click-free loophole and has been working with a couple of major subscription news publishers on potential tools for publishers over the past year. Now Continue reading "Here’s how Google is thinking about surfacing paywalled news organizations in search"

Why Small Newsrooms Do the Best Data Journalism

Turns out you don’t need a big newsroom to do award-winning data journalism. For my research on data journalism in small newsrooms, I talked to heads of data teams in Germany, Austria and the UK. I found that size is no barrier to innovation. Data journalism is all about team work, and smaller newsrooms can be at an advantage when it comes to integrating data teams. The small, traditional newsroom Berliner Morgenpost had an almost fairytale-like success story with its efforts in incorporating data journalism.

Enthusiasm from the bottom up

Julius Tröger started working for Berliner Morgenpost’s online team in 2010. It’s a small team of just eight reporters, and the entire newsroom of this local newspaper in Berlin comprises less than 100 reporters and editors. At the same time, Tröger started studying computer science. In 2011, he did his first data journalism story on the parliamentary elections in Berlin. With the
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Agora Project’s Cross-Border Collaboration Looks at Political Polarization Across Europe

“The Collaboration of the Week” is a special series of feature stories and podcast segments at MediaShift highlighting one important media collaboration and explaining how they did it. The series is sponsored by Airtable, the all-in-one collaboration platform for creative teams. Receive $50 in credit by visiting Reporting on political polarization around the globe is a challenge for any journalist: by definition, these trends cross borders and encompass more than any one nation’s politics. But a recent experiment in journalistic collaboration connected freelance reporters across Europe to take on that challenge together. Launched in March of last year, the Agora Project created a temporary digital newsroom comprised of 10 freelance journalists from Portugal to Greece tasked with covering political polarization across Europe. The goal, members said, was cross-border collaboration and leveraging local insights and expertise to craft stories of international significance. The project was created on and hosted
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