NewsLiteracyPlaybook - Flipbook - Page 17
History of Misinformation
Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking
Network; these efforts, now in more than 20
countries, also include reviews of photos and videos
Distrust and civic life
A 2018 report from the RAND Corporation — Truth
Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role
of Facts and Analysis in American Life — examined
the American public’s relationship to news, trust and
truth. Its broad findings can be applied worldwide.
The authors, Jennifer Kavanagh
and Michael D. Rich, define
“truth decay” as:
Increasing disagreement about facts
and analytical interpretations of facts
A blurring of the line between opinion
The increasing relative volume, and
resulting influence, of opinion and
personal experience over fact.
Declining trust in formerly respected
sources of factual information.
Among causes of people’s tendency to trust less,
they say, are the way in which humans process
information — for instance, naturally seeking
out and seeing only what they already believe (a
phenomenon known as confirmation bias) and
relying on what they hear from friends — and
changes in the information system, including the
rise of social media and the wide dissemination of
disinformation and misleading or biased information.
Given that today’s complex information ecosystem
still includes the basic elements of sender, message,
and receiver, it makes sense that attempts to rein
in misinformation address all of these elements.
Technology — the basis for the most popular
methods of disseminating information today — has a
role as well.
A useful breakdown is found in How to combat
fake news and disinformation, a 2017 report by the
Brookings Institution, a research and public policy
center in Washington, D.C. It recommends five routes
to fight disinformation and one way not to fight it:
through overly restrictive government intervention.
(Why? Because governments around the world are
increasingly demonizing and jailing journalists, often
using charges of “fake news.”)
These routes to fighting mis- and disinformation
Government. To maintain healthy societies,
governments should support independent
professional journalism — reports that make sense
of complicated developments and clarify rapidly
changing events. They should also avoid crackdowns
on the media, which limit freedom of expression.
News organizations. Credible news outlets can
champion society’s need for responsible journalism,
and promote their own fact-checking initiatives.
Transparency efforts that show how good journalism
works include explaining the decisions that led to
publication of a story, publishing documents that
a report relies on, and tapping the wisdom of the
crowd to help ferret out additional information.
They also can support the work of independent
fact-checking organizations in their countries.
The International Fact-Checking Network was
established in 2015. Its 2018 Global Fact-Checking
Summit in Rome, Italy, included representatives from
fact-checking initiatives, academia and technology
companies in 56 countries.