Fake News Is Not the Real Media Threat We’re Facing

Conservative talk radio predates the Internet as a populist alternative to the mainstream media. This article challenges the idea that “fake news” is a new, or even a significant problem, and instead explores how some celebrity conservatives (including radio host Rush Limbaugh) encourage their followers to mistrust traditional news outlets. Fake news has been around as long as real news, as any historian of early modern Europe can tell you (Renaissance…

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Imma Let You Integrate Quotations

In the poem “Imma Let You Integrate Quotations!” by Melvin Middleschool-Writer, it talks about a writing style that wastes words. “Those long quotations, dropping awkward into the essay / Hijack your thoughts / Like a Kanye who graciously accepts a microphone from Taylor Swift  / So he can confidently mansplain it all.” This quote means that students who interrupt their own essays  with a lengthy, not-contextualized quoted passage, and then follow that quote with a separate sentence…

Now you can fact-check Trump’s tweets — in the tweets themselves

The Washington Post, which was one of about a dozen news outlets that Trump banned from his campaign events for a few months this summer, has released a Chrome browser plugin that adds Post-sponsored commentary into Trump’s Twitter feed. Sometimes the Post says the commentary will simply add context, but they are announcing it as a fact-checking tool. We made a tool that slips a bit more context into Trump’s…

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Vanessa Otero’s Complex vs. Clickbait, Liberal vs. Conservative Media Chart

Vanessa Otero created an impressive chart that visualizes the problem with a simplistic “real news / fake news” dichotomy. News that skews left or right can still be valuable, and news that scrupulously avoids bias can still be vacuous clickbait. While you or I might disagree on whether the HuffPo/Occupy Democrats oval really parallels the Fox News / RedState oval, or we might quibble over the placement of some of…

In News, What’s Fake and What’s Real Can Depend on What You Want to Believe

The proliferation of fake and hyperpartisan news that has flooded into Americans’ laptops and living rooms has prompted a national soul-searching, with liberals across the country asking how a nation of millions could be marching to such a suspect drumbeat. But while some Americans may take the stories literally — like the North Carolina man who fired his gun in a Washington pizzeria on Sunday trying to investigate a false…

Knee-jerk sharing of memes denigrates the truth.

Trump never told People magazine that Republicans are dumb, Sarah Palin never said “I can see Russia from my house,” and when Obama said “gotta have ribs and pussy too” in 1995 he was reading a line spoken by a character in his book. Sharing miscaptioned photos that criticize public figures or organizations for things they never actually said or did generates the kind of emotional response that can lead…

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It’s Not “Fake News” Just Because You Disagree With It

I use the term “fake news” to refer to doctored social media posts that were never written by the purported authors, or real photos taken out of context and given new captions. Sharing such posts because they flatter your pre-conceived notions of the targets contributes to the devaluing of the truth. Politicians have put spins on news since there have been politicians. Satire has a long literary history. Tossing the…