Fake News or Real News: What's the Difference and How to Know
Political Economy 24 P 002 SEM W 6-7P, 225 Dwinelle
"Fake News" is not a fight over Truth but rather a fight over Power"
2016 was the "Year of the Hoax" disguised as truth. Fake news and the proliferation of opinion that passes for news is creating confusion, punching holes in what is true, and leading us to doubt everything branded as "news." An analysis by BuzzFeed found that false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated more engagement than content from real news sites during the last three months of the election. In this course we will examine the difference between "fake news", satire, opinion, slanted journalism, propaganda and factual news reporting. We will look at the rise of the fake news phenomenon, how and why it has gone viral and its actual and potential consequences
- What is Fake news? Is objective News an illusion?
- Problems of unreliability in traditional media: inaccurate/insufficient information such as errors and ommissions, biased information (often in favor of the status quo), government pressure to suppress reports, corporate public relations campaigns
- How does fake news differ from problems of unreliability noted above? Hoaxes, Satire, opinion, and Comedy, “spin,” intentional disinformation mixing factual material with fraudulent information
- Jon Stewart on the thin line between traditional media and fake news https://qz.com/850475/jon-stewart-the-american-media-has-become-an-information-laundering-scheme/
- Class Debate on Climate Change and Climate Change Skepticism: A legitimate Debate or campaigns of Disinformation/Misinformation (Isaac, Riley, Marco, Erika)
Sarah Simpson, “The Arctic Thaw could make Global Warming Worse,” Scientific American, June 29, 2009
"Think Again: Climate Change" By Bill McKibben In Foreign Policy January-February 2009
“A Changing Climate: Consequences for Subsistence Communities”
”Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Polar Regions” pp. 663-676
"Do Climate Change Deniers Have a Point?" http://www.oregonlive.com/today/index.ssf/2016/04/do_climate-change_skeptics_hav.html
Week 4 Feb. 8
- Continue Climate Change Debate, analyze students' examples, discuss fake news and free speech
Weeks 5 and 6 Feb.15 and Feb 22
- How can we tell fake news when we see it? (two sessions)
Guest Speakers, Cody Hennesy, and Editors of the Daily Cal (Sean)
Week 7 March 1
- The emergence and evolution of Fake News (1)
- Before fake news, what was “real” news?
- The crumbling infrastructure of traditional journalism and the emergence of digital media
Guest Speaker JP Mangalindan, Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Finance JP Mangalindan covers the intersection of technology and finance Previously, he worked as a reporter for Fortune Magazine and Mashable covering Silicon Valley. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan's work has also appeared in GQ Magazine, Popular Science and Entertainment Weekly. (Riley)
Goodby to the Age of Newspapers, Hello to the Age of Corruption
Commentary: Fake News Isn’t a New Problem, and We’re Better Equipped to Fight It Now
The Corpse Factory and the Birth of Fake News
Lessons of the Fake News Pandemic of 1942
Week 8 March 8
Guest Speaker Jon Schwarz, San Francisco Bureau Chief, USA Today. Jon Schwarz has been a high-tech journalist since 1987. He has worked for MacWEEK, written for London dailies (Independent, Times and Daily Telegraph), the San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes and, of course, USA TODAY.
Recommended: Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman "Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda," Columbia Journalism Review, March 3, 2017
Week 9 March 15
- Who writes fake news and why? (Session led by Mahira, Crystal, Rachel, and Nicole)
- Governments and corporations promote disinformation to manipulate the public
Craig Silverman, "A Hollywood Film Is Using Fake News To Get Publicity" Buzzfeed, Feb. 13, 2017 (Rachel)
- Trolls and Ideological activists propagate false narratives to take down opponents and exercise power
- Know your meme: Birther Movement (Crystal)
- Amanda Hess "How the Trolls Stole Washington," NYT Magazine Feb. 28, 2017 (Nicole)
- Andrew Marantz, "Trolls for Trump: Meet Mike Cernovich, the meme mastermind of the alt-right," The New Yorker, October 31, 2016 (Rachel)
"Despite their self-presentation as ciphers, trolls have always had a point of view, and #GamerGate offered a platform for a whole coalition to express its distrust of media, resentment toward women and anger at progressive critiques of racism and misogyny. They had demands, too: They worked to get journalists fired, to pressure advertisers, to silence feminist critics."
So how does all of this relate to Trump?
- Outright propaganda from the Bully Pulpit “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”--Gary Kasparov
recommended: A long article on Russia https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html?_r=0P
March 22 (led by Hannah and Marco)
- Why do people believe Fake news? "Fake News is not a fight over Truth but rather a fight over Power"
- What are the actual and potential consequences?
Week 12 April 12 (Isaac, Erica, Rachel, Sean)
- Fake news and Free speech, laws and libel: class debate on restricting and regulating free speech in the interest of minimizing the negative impact of fake news. Should "Fake News" be protected under the First Amendment? Or does "Fake News" undermine the first amendment rights of others? Should it be regulated?
- "Social Media and 'Fake news' from a free speech perspective" The issue of “fake news” must be approached with caution, mindful that prohibition of “fake” or “false” news has often served as an instrument to control the media and restrict editorial freedom....In certain circumstances, however, the publication of deceitful information can cause serious harm. It could damage an individual’s reputation, violate their privacy or trigger disastrous collective reactions. Nonetheless, restrictions on “fake news” are not the appropriate way to deal with these consequences. Existing laws on defamation, legal provisions that protect the right to privacy, and laws on public order that allow police forces to control the possible consequences of public outrage already provide some protection from negative impacts...By contrast with finely-tailored legislation, any legal prohibition of “fake” news would inevitably create a chilling effect upon the media and anyone that contributes to public debate.
- “The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. It’s how you brainwash someone. It’s incredibly dangerous." (From "Robert Mercer:The Big Data Billionaire waging war on the mainstream media")
Week 13 April 19 (Susana)
"Rebuilding a basis on which Americans can form a shared belief about what is going on is a precondition of democracy, and the most important task confronting the press going forward.
To accomplish this, traditional media needs to reorient, not by developing better viral content and clickbait to compete in the social media environment, but by recognizing that it is operating in a propaganda and disinformation-rich environment. This, not Macedonian teenagers or Facebook, is the real challenge of the coming years. Rising to this challenge could usher in a new golden age for the Fourth Estate."
-----Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman "Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda," Columbia Journalism Review, March 3, 2017
Week 14: Conclusion and Party April 26
May 3: Your own Fake News Story is Due
On the history and evolution of fake news
On teaching about how to evaluate information
Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble
Shaheed Mohammed, The Disinformation Age
Howard Rheingold, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online
David Helfand, Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age