Perspectives in Digital Literacy/"Stuffed with Garbage"

Propaganda is a monologue that is not looking for an answer, but an echo.

— W. H. Auden

The lowest form of popular culture—lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives—has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.

— Carl Bernstein.

My definition of fake news is a content-like object that is a story, an article, a video, a tweet that has been fabricated, completely invented out of thin air, intentionally for the purpose of misleading.

— Vivian Schiller

I suppose, in the end, we journalists try - or should try - to be the first impartial witnesses of history. If we have any reason for our existence, the least must be our ability to report history as it happens so that no one can say: "We didn't know - no one told us."

— Robert Fisk

While we claim to live in an information age, disinformation has become the order of the day.

— Farid A. Malik

Stuffed with Garbage: How Fake News, Misinformation, and Disinformation Impact the Journalists' Code of Ethics in Digital News Media  edit

Misleading or false information presented in the form of news is commonly referred to as fake news or hoax news. The primary objective of fake news is to defame a person, group, or entity or to generate advertising revenue.

Journalists and media practitioners face several complex ethical challenges due to the rise of digital technologies. The impact of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation on the code of ethics followed by media in digital journalism is significant. With the advent of multimedia, it has become effortless for such user-generated content to propagate quickly and extensively, posing a challenge for digital news media to ensure the integrity of their content. Collectively, misleading news has led to a growing concern about the impact of these phenomena on journalism ethics and standards in digital media. By shedding light on how false information can affect ethical journalism, this exploratory article can help digital news and social media publishers protect their audience from fallacious news and promote the open exchange of ideas based on truthful reporting.  

Fake News False or misleading information is presented as news.
Disinformation It was deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, social group, organization, or country.
Misinformation False—but not created or shared to cause harm.

The Effects of Fake News, Misinformation, and Disinformation in Digital News Media   edit

"The War of the Worlds" was a Halloween episode of the radio series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds that was performed and broadcast live at 8 pm ET on October 30, 1938 over the CBS Radio Network.

In 1938, the CBS Radio Network aired a radio drama, "The War of the Worlds[1],” which depicted Martians' fictional invasion of Earth. The drama is famous for causing mass panic, as many listeners mistook it for an actual news broadcast.[2] When the episode was broadcast, it was dramatic theater for some and revealed as orchestrated misinformation for others.

It is increasingly difficult to differentiate between real and fake news stories. The Internet is filled with numerous examples of blatantly false news:  examples of blatantly false news:

  • The U.S. Capitol police gave the protesters an "okay" to enter the Capitol.[3] A video clip was widely shared on social media and posted by a group of Trump supporters. The video showed the group attacking the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, after U.S. President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. The group claimed that a police officer had told them that they could enter the building. However, upon reviewing the video, no evidence supports this claim. The Gateway Pundit, a fake news website, also reported this claim on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Additionally, a radio show in Texas called "Walton & Johnson" ran a similar headline.
    • The FBI has released ample evidence to the public, which demonstrates that Trump supporters violently attacked officers at the Capitol. Additionally, other footage shows them breaking through a metal barrier outside the Capitol and breaking windows of the building to enter. It can be concluded that the U.S. Capitol police did not allow protestors to enter the Capitol.
  • High doses of vitamin C can cure COVID-19.[3] In 2020, numerous websites and social media posts propagated that high vitamin C could cure or effectively treat COVID-19.
    • There was a lot of hype around unproven claims for vitamin C as a cure for COVID-19, spread through fake news, personal websites, and social media influencers. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
  • Chickens are not laying eggs because RNA is being added to commercial chicken feed.[3] The source of the claim was an article titled "Messenger RNA sequencing and pathway analysis provide novel insights into the biological basis of chickens' feed efficiency." The study aimed to understand the differences between chickens with low and high feed efficiency and used RNA sequencing to analyze the levels of RNA produced by the chickens' cells. However, the article did not mention adding RNA to chicken feed. The goal of the study is to improve the selection process for feed efficiency.
    • Several experts have confirmed that the claim regarding commercial feed manufacturers adding RNA to chicken feed misinterprets the data. The FDA has also stated that RNA is not considered a feed additive. The articles cited in the original TikTok video do not provide evidence to support the argument made in the video. Moreover, the FDA has advised seeking advice from a licensed veterinarian to examine the chicken and gather a detailed medical and diet history, as there are several reasons why a chicken's egg-laying behavior and production may change.
    • The first thing that should be questioned is the reference to RNA in the post. RNA, scientifically known as ribonucleic acid, is a nucleic acid found in all living cells. Therefore, the argument of adding synthetic Arnie into commercial feed does not seem logical. Additionally, research confirms that factors such as management practices, improper nutrition, parasite infection, disease, lighting, and stress commonly affect chicken egg production. Hence, the conclusion can be drawn that RNA is not added to commercial chicken feed.

During the 2016 election, President Donald Trump began expressing concerns about the possibility of election rigging. He spoke about it repeatedly, claiming that the election was rigged and that something was going wrong on the part of Hillary Clinton. Trump's attempt to destabilize the election created a sense among his supporters that the election was being manipulated. Hence, a fake news content creator from Maryland saw an opportunity to capitalize on this sentiment and decided to create false evidence to support the idea that the election was rigged. He started with a headline claiming that thousands of fraudulent Clinton ballots were found in an Ohio warehouse. 

But, in his 2017 New York Times article, "From Headline to Photograph: A Fake News Masterpiece,"[4] Scott Shane uncovered the truth behind this questionable story that would be a headliner for “a dubious art just coming into its prime”[4]—fake news. He dives into how the 23-year-old fake news creator intentionally designed a website and Facebook pages to generate revenue from the distrust of Clinton among “six million”[4] Trump supporters. Although the bogus story was verifiably false, Shane points out that the damage had been done. The blatantly, intentionally disseminated information sparked outrage from people who believed Clinton would cheat Trump, underscoring the effect of false information in digital news media. 

Journalism, “Fake News” and Disinformation[5]—a handbook designed to address the issue of disinformation that confronts societies in general, and journalism in particular—avoids legitimizing that the term “fake news” has a straightforward or commonly understood meaning because “news” implies verifiable information in the public's interest. If the information does not meet these standards, it does not deserve the “news” label. Therefore, “fake news” is an oxymoron that undermines the credibility of information that meets the threshold of verifiability and public interest—real news. In this handbook, the term "disinformation" is commonly used to describe the act of intentionally deceiving or manipulating people using false information. The term often involves a range of tactics, including disseminating misleading or dishonest information and hacking or compromising individuals. All the same, "misinformation" typically refers to unintentionally misleading information. While both are problematic, disinformation is considered more dangerous as it is often well-planned, well-funded, and supported by automated technology.[5]

Those who spread false information target people vulnerable to their messages or can amplify them for their purposes. They use the public’s tendency to share information to persuade their audience to become the carriers of their messages. The danger lies in the fact that such "fake news" is usually free and accessible to everyone, making it particularly risky for those who cannot afford quality journalism or do not have access to unbiased news media. With the help of technology and social media, fake news stories can appear in legitimate electronic news publications. Political organizations and groups may use ads that resemble news to deceive some target audience. Additionally, hackers may use bots, which are small pieces of software, to create numerous social media accounts and spread false information. This subversion of reality and twisting of facts can make a fabricated story appear genuine, as many people have shared it.

Fake news is a growing problem, made worse by the ease of access and sharing on social media. Technology like generative AI and deepfakes make it challenging to differentiate between real and fake news. This can lead to misinformation and confirmation bias17, as people are likelier to believe news confirming their beliefs. Echo chambers18 further exacerbate this problem by promoting biased opinions as fact.

False information is a problem in our society and can come from dissimilar sources. Some people create it to make money, while others use it to harm their competitors. Unfortunately, these articles can cause many problems, such as confusion and bad decisions. They can also make people lose trust in journalism. Gossip is another issue where people spread rumors without verifying whether they are true. Propaganda is a message that tries to convince people to support a particular political or ideological agenda. It often has misleading information, making it hard for people to make good choices. Nowadays, anyone can publish opinions without checking the facts. This manipulative use of news has led to a decrease in ethical norms in journalism, according to Forbes magazine.[6]  

The Importance of Ethical Journalism in Digital News Media  [edit | edit source] edit

According to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics, journalists assume four primary responsibilities, including: to seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent.

Media ethicist Stephen J.A. Ward believes that “[we] are moving towards a mixed news media—a news media citizen and professional journalism across many media platforms.”[7] This alternative media has become increasingly prevalent as the mass communication landscape evolves. Ward explains that with this shift comes the need to establish fresh hybrid media ethics that can guide amateur and professional individuals, regardless of their platform—bloggers, broadcasters, Twitterers, or traditional journalism writers. These guidelines should be comprehensive and inclusive, considering each medium's unique challenges and opportunities. They should also prioritize accuracy, fairness, and transparency while respecting the privacy and dignity of all individuals involved in the news-making process. These ethics should ensure that the public can trust the information they receive from all news media sources.[7]

Traditional journalism is losing its grip on public trust in digital news media. The cornerstone of journalism ethics is balance and fairness, striving for accuracy and conveying all sides of a story. However, there is a debate about how far media people should go to represent all perspectives. Although journalists should take their time to present all sides of a story, especially during urgent situations, they should avoid "false balance"[8] or giving equal weight to both sides of a story when one side is false. Even if a reporter has a point of view, they must still aim for balance and fairness. Sometimes, it is impossible to achieve complete balance and fairness, as news coverage often caters to those at the extremes. David Robert Grimes, who contributes to several media outlets on questions of society, thinks that "when the evidence is clear-cut, the assumption that good journalism requires mutually opposed views to be treated as equally valid simply doesn’t hold."[8] It is essential to recognize that not all perspectives are equally valid, primarily when one side is based on false information.

In this ever-evolving digital media environment, adhering to ethical norms is a proactive measure that benefits columnists and their readership. Trust is paramount in creating an informed and responsible society. New ethical guidelines must be established and upheld with citizen journalism, blogging, and social media disrupting traditional journalism. Yet, the current measures must be revised to guide journalists in this new era that combines professionals and amateurs. Therefore, new ethical ideologies must be tailored to this new media landscape to ensure reliable information. Upholding ethical guiding principles combats misinformation, safeguards against false information, and promotes accurate reporting. Codes of ethics in media establish credibility, preserve the reputation of digital news sources, and serve the public interest. The digital age has transformed journalism, making ethics more crucial than ever.

Maintaining transparency as an online reporter is necessary. This requires a demonstration of openness and accountability. To achieve this, the Ethics of Online Journalists emphasizes: “If [a journalist] make[s] a correction to an article that is already published, note the correction on the updated version. When [an online reporter is] connected personally to a story, share that information in the interest of full disclosure.”[9] Moreover, maintaining open communication with the audience is essential. Credibility is of utmost importance for online writers, who are constantly under scrutiny. To earn credibility, it is necessary to check facts and use supporting documentation, avoid inserting subjective opinions, and provide supporting links to reliable sources. By adhering to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, which includes being honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information, online reporters can uphold exacting standards of excellent journalism and enhance their professional reputation.  

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the precursor to justice and the cornerstone of democracy. Ethical journalism guarantees the unfettered exchange of precise, impartial, and comprehensive information. An honest journalist always upholds integrity. The Society identifies these four principles as the bedrock of ethical journalism and encourages their implementation by all individuals in all forms of media[10].

SPJ Code of Ethics
Seek Truth and Report It Journalism demands accuracy, fairness, and honesty.  
  • Journalists should verify their sources, provide context, and update and correct information throughout the life of a story.  
  • They should identify sources clearly and allow subjects to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.  
  • Journalists should avoid undercover methods of gathering information and hold those in power accountable.  
  • They should seek diverse voices, avoid stereotyping, and label advocacy and commentary.  
  • Finally, journalists should never distort facts or context and attribute sources appropriately.
Minimize Harm Ethical journalism treats everyone with respect and follows the following guidelines:
  • Balance the public’s need for information with potential harm.
  • Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage.
  • Access to information is not an ethical justification to publish or broadcast it.
  • Private individuals have greater control over information about themselves.
  • Avoid sensationalizing news.
  • Balance a suspect's right to a fair trial with the public's right to know.
  • Consider the long-term implications of the publication's reach and permanence.  
  • Ethical journalism exists to serve the public.
Act Independently
  • Journalists must avoid conflicts of interest, refuse gifts and favors, and avoid activities that could compromise credibility.  
  • They should not pay for news or provide special treatment to advertisers or donors.
  • Sponsored content must be clearly labeled to distinguish it from news.
Be Accountable and Transparent Ethical journalism demands that journalists take responsibility for their work and remain accountable to the public for their decisions.  
  • This includes the obligation of journalists to clarify their ethical choices and processes to their audiences and engage in a respectful dialogue with them about journalistic practices, coverage, and news content.  
  • They should also respond promptly to any queries regarding the accuracy, clarity, and impartiality of their reporting.
  • Moreover, journalists should adhere to the same exacting standards of journalism that they expect from others.  
  • They must also expose any unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.

How to Protect the Public from Fallacious Information in Digital News Media  [edit | edit source] edit

PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on its Truth-O-Meter. Latest Pants on Fire! Fact-checks
Ask FactCheck! Have a question for FactCheck? Ask us. If you have a question about a social media post, we may have already answered it on our Debunking False Stories page. Or see the most popular questions on our Viral Spiral page. is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network. We provide several resources for readers: a guide on how to flag suspicious stories on Facebook and a list of websites that have carried false or satirical articles, as well as a video and story on how to spot false stories

Digital news media must expose fake news and disinformation while avoiding giving them undue credibility. They can achieve this by relying on their internal experts and reputable fact-checkers. To educate the public about misleading news sites, well-regarded websites such as PolitiFact,, and Snopes evaluate the accuracy of claims made by elected officials and publish stories that detail the truth or falsehood of specific developments. These fact-checking sources have become visible in election campaigns and candidate evaluations in the United States and elsewhere. Darrell M. West’s article, “How to Combat Fake News and Disinformation,” reports—according to research by Dartmouth College Professor Brendan Nyhan—that labeling a Facebook post as "disputed" can reduce the percentage of readers who believe the false news by ten percentage points.[11] Additionally, West—a nonpartisan analyst for the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit organization dedicated to independent research and policy solutions—discloses that communication and media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College has compiled a list of 140 websites that use "distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information," which helps people find promoters of false news. In times of significant turmoil and confusion, the world requires a robust and effective news media that informs citizens about current events and long-term trends.[11]  

The Radio Television Digital News Association—the world's largest professional organization dedicated to broadcast and digital journalism—emphasizes that disseminating false information has become a significant menace to the public. Addressing this problem is vital and requires the active involvement of news professionals and newsroom managers. Journalists are the first line of defense against inaccurate and deceptive content across all mediums. Newspeople should refrain from repeating false claims, reposting manipulated images, or restating incorrect quotes to avoid generating false or misleading deceptions. Instead, they should always state the truth and accuracy before correcting erroneous information. While correcting falsehoods, it is decisive to ensure that the content is not being amplified—and has not been viewed or shared by many people. A trumped-up story should be corrected when the alternative fact reaches a critical mass and appears to be spreading.[12]

Submitting material or information to a news organization is pivotal in disseminating news. Nonetheless, it is equally essential to ensure that the authenticity of the material is verified before it is published. This verification process involves a thorough investigation to confirm the source, date, and ownership of any videos, photos, or audio recordings. Journalists should contact anyone identified in the material to ensure its accuracy and context. When confusion, diversion, and distraction are ramped up, they become a pollutant of public debate. Newspeople must get the sources to verify how the material was obtained and to seek additional evidence to support any claims. Graphics should be scrutinized for accuracy, and their sources should be disclosed to ensure transparency. In addition, news organizations should carefully examine all material for signs of manipulation, including unnatural movements and lighting. A review process involving more than one reporter should be implemented to ensure that all material is thoroughly vetted before publication.  

Snopes, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is the definitive Internet reference source for researching urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. What's New? The latest fact checks and original reporting from Snopes' editorial team. Test your fact checking skills with the new Snopes True or False game!

By taking these steps, news organizations can maintain their credibility and ensure that the information they publish is accurate and reliable. It is important for news organizations to continuously educate and train journalists on how to identify and combat misinformation, using free resources such as those provided by First Draft News—a nonprofit coalition providing practical and ethical guidance on how to find, verify, and publish content sourced from the social web. Reporters are responsible for informing the public about the methods used to spread false information and how to spot it. Anyone who writes for news websites or prepares news to be broadcast can build trust with their audience by sharing their reviews and verification processes. Additionally, having a second person proofread news content across all platforms can help ensure accuracy.[12]

How to Promote an Open Exchange of Ideas in Digital News Media  [edit | edit source] edit

What will journalism look like in the next century? While change is inevitable, as stated in “The Rise of Digital Journalism: Past, Present, and Future”—a Maryville University blog—"[it is] clear that the Internet and digital age are here to stay, and humanity will continue to find new ways to connect and interact as the 21st century goes on.” Irrespective of the outcome, journalists and media practitioners in the digital era must adapt. With innovative technologies, platforms, and tools emerging, the best reporters must find ways to incorporate them into their skills or explore new areas in the field. As per the Poynter Institute, journalists in the next 10 to 20 years will require the same level of inquisitiveness, writing proficiency, and fact-checking abilities as today's writers, but they will also need to rely more on digital film, photo, and editing skills, as well as their capacity to "build their brand."[13]

Journalism has undergone significant changes, from its origins before the Industrial Revolution to the present era of citizen journalism and media conglomerates. To be successful in this field in the 21st century, news writers and journalism students must be adaptable to new platforms and technologies and stay attuned to the public's opinions and interests. Despite the uncertain future of journalism, there will always be opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals with a grasp of technology and human nature to tell engaging stories. Regardless of what they call themselves, that is the essence of journalism.  

With the media landscape changing swiftly, today's scenario demands continuous adaptation and evolution. By introducing participatory journalism—where the audience can actively gather, report, examine, and share information—professionals and amateurs can foster a more inclusive conversation around the news by treating their audience as collaborators, advisors, advocates, partners, and contributors. Digital news media can promote access to reliable information and diverse viewpoints by encouraging open discussions, providing diverse perspectives, and offering engaging video-based content. Personalized content based on data and analytics can enhance audience engagement and encourage user-generated content, leading to an open exchange of ideas and a sense of community. With advanced technology, digital news media can create a more immersive and interactive experience for their readers, leading to a more informed and connected society.  

The Fourth Estate, or the press, is influential in informing the public about current events and issues and holding those in power accountable. On the other hand, the rise of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation makes delivering accurate and reliable information increasingly difficult. Digital news media outlets must prioritize truthful reporting and fact-checking to ensure the public is well-informed and can engage in meaningful discussions. While there is a debate about how far reporters should go to represent all perspectives, promoting balanced and fair reporting is a prerequisite.  

Responsible journalism involves several noteworthy components, such as fact-checking principles, source verification, transparency, diversity, and adherence to ethical guidelines. By adhering to these standards, digital news media outlets can ensure that their reporting is fair, accurate, and unbiased. By investing in the professional development of their journalists, digital news media outlets can promote responsible journalism practices and improve the quality of their reporting.  

How Technological Advancements Will Shape the Future of Journalism—a blog associated with Maryville University—acknowledges that the world of journalism is undergoing a rapid transformation. Traditional desktops have been replaced by more portable and versatile laptops and notebooks. With the Internet, vast content resources are now available worldwide. Several news organizations, such as the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, have started utilizing artificial intelligence to generate automated content, tag digital text, and reformat articles. Regardless of these technological advancements, qualified and experienced news writers are still indispensable in covering a wide range of events like breaking news, local happenings, and forums on public policy, board of education meetings, and elections.[14]

Conclusion  [edit | edit source] edit

There is a need to be vigilant against fake news as scammers often manipulate the stories to align with the perceptions of their targets, making it easier to deceive them. Therefore, it is important to join the fight against fake news by reporting such instances.

Promoting responsible journalism is foremost when ensuring accurate and credible news and information. By implementing constructive measures to encourage audience engagement, inclusivity, and critical thinking and prioritizing truthful reporting and fact-checking, journalists can overcome the challenges posed by digital media and promote a trustworthy, unbiased, and fair culture of responsible journalism.

References edit

  1. “‘War of the Worlds’ 1938 Radio Broadcast.” YouTube, YouTube, 28 Oct. 2011. Accessed 13 December 2023.
  2. Klein, Christopher. “Inside ‘The War of the Worlds’ Radio Broadcast.”, A&E Television Networks, 1 June 2023. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  3. a b c “Libguides: Misinformation & Fake News: Case Studies & Examples.” Case Studies & Examples - Misinformation & Fake News - LibGuides at Central Washington University, 27 June 2023. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  4. a b c Shane, Scott. “From Headline to Photograph, a Fake News Masterpiece.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 January 2017. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  5. a b Posetti, Julie, et al. “Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation: Handbook for Journalism Education and Training.” Edited by Cherilyn Ireton and Julie Posetti, Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2018. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  6. Lans, Sebastiaan van der. “The Future of Journalism Is Transparent Publishing.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 July 2021. Accessed 12 December 2023
  7. a b Ward, Stephen J.A. “Digital Media Ethics,” University of Wisconsin–Madison: Center for Journalism Ethics, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 16 June 2020.  Accessed 12 December 2023.
  8. a b Grimes, David Robert. “Impartial Journalism Is Laudable. but False Balance Is Dangerous.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 November 2016. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  9. “Ethics of Online Journalists.” Ethics of Online Journalists, The University of Southern California (USC), 18 April 2023. Accessed 12 December 2023
  10. “SPJ Code of Ethics - Society of Professional Journalists.” SPJ Code of Ethics, Society of Professional Journalists, 6 September 2014. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  11. a b West, Darrell M. “How to Combat Fake News and Disinformation.” Brookings, The Brookings Institution, 27 June 2023. Accessed 12 December 2023
  12. a b “Preventing the Spread of Misinformation & Disinformation.” Preventing the Spread of Misinformation & Disinformation - Radio Television Digital News Association, The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), 2023. Accessed 12 December 2023
  13. Hurtado, Andres. “The Rise of Digital Journalism: Past, Present, and Future.” Maryville University Online, Maryville University, 15 March 2021. Accessed 12 December 2023.
  14. “How Technological Advancements Will Shape the Future of Journalism.” Maryville University Online, Maryville University, 3 June 2019. Accessed 12 December 2023

Wikipedia Sources[edit | edit source] edit

Glossary of Terms[edit | edit source] edit

Alternative Media. Sources of media that are distinct from conventional or dominant forms of media, such as mainstream or mass media, in their content, production, or distribution.

Blogger. Someone who regularly writes for a website, usually run by an individual or small group, and uses an informal, conversational writing style.

Broadcaster. A person employed to talk on radio or television shows.

Citizen Journalism. Also referred to as collaborative media, participatory journalism, democratic journalism, guerrilla journalism, or street journalism, involves public members actively participating in collecting, reporting, analyzing, and distributing news and information.

Code Of Ethics in Media. In 1947, the Hutchins Commission recommended the creation of a code of ethics in the media. The commission believed journalists, newspapers, and broadcasters were responsible for ensuring accurate and reliable journalism and should be held accountable for it.

Confirmation Bias. When people process information that confirms their existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them.  

Deepfakes. A type of synthetic media created by digitally manipulating one person's likeness with another.  

Digital Age. Also referred to as the Computer Age, Information Age, Silicon Age, New Media Age, or Media Age, it began in the mid-20th century and is characterized by a rapid shift toward an economy centered on information technology.  

Digital Journalism. A modern form of journalism that delivers editorial content through the internet rather than print or broadcast.

Digital Media. Digital media is any communication media that operates with encoded machine-readable data formats. It includes text, audio, video, and graphics transmitted over the Internet for viewing or listening.

Digital Technologies. Electronic tools, systems, and devices can generate, store, or process data. Examples include social media, multimedia, and mobile phones.  

Diverse Viewpoint. It is understanding that all people have unique experiences and see things differently.

Echo Chambers. As seen in news and social media, an echo chamber is a closed system where individuals are exposed to beliefs that amplify or reinforce their existing beliefs through repetition and communication while insulating from opposing viewpoints.

Electronic News Publication. Commonly referred to as an online newspaper, it can either exist as a standalone publication or as the digital version of a printed periodical.

Ethical Norms. Standardized conduct and behavior refer to universally accepted guidelines that individuals in a society or organization follow.  

Fact-checking. Fact-checking verifies the accuracy of information presented in a written work, news article, speech, or other communication piece.

Fake News Websites. Fake news websites publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation as real news. They use social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect.

False Balance. Also known as bothsidesism, it is a type of bias in media where journalists tend to present an issue as being equally balanced between opposing viewpoints, even when the evidence does not support it.

Fourth Estate. It pertains to the press and news media, which possess the explicit capability of advocacy and the implicit ability to shape political discourse.

Generative AI. Refers to the ability of AI to create text, images, and other media using generative models. These models learn from input training data and produce new data with similar characteristics.

Gossip. Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details not confirmed as valid.

Hacker. Someone who uses technical skills to solve problems can also refer to someone who illegally accesses systems for criminal purposes.

Ideological Agenda. A set of beliefs and values that form the basis of political action in a country or political system.

Journalistic Ethics and Standards. Journalistic ethics are the principles of ethics and good practice applicable to journalists. It is also known as journalism's professional "code of ethics" and the "canons of journalism."

Mass Communication. Refers to the transmission and exchange of information to vast segments of the population through mass media. Technological advancements have made conveying information through various media platforms more efficient. The primary examples of these platforms include journalism and advertising.

Media Conglomerate. A company that owns numerous companies involved in mass media enterprises. Six major companies, including Comcast, Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom, AT&T, and CBS control the US media. These companies are part of a media conglomerate and serve as significant news sources.

Media. The means of communication, such as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the internet, that reach or influence people widely.

Media Practitioners. Individuals involved in producing, editing, or disseminating news and information to the public. This can include broadcasters, journalists, publishers, editors, and managers or owners of broadcasting stations or publications.

Multimedia. Multimedia combines various content forms, like writing, audio, images, animations, or video, into an interactive presentation.

News media. The news media comprises newspapers, TV journalism, and other forms of communication that provide current events and analysis.

Participatory Journalism. Also known as citizen journalism is a modern form of journalism in which ordinary citizens who are not professional journalists participate in the news-gathering process. It expands the traditional path of journalism, created by journalists and distributed to an audience, to allow more active and potential roles for the public. This includes their involvement in gathering, analyzing, reporting, and sharing information.

Political Agenda. A list of current government and public concerns.  

Political Groups. Political groups such as political parties and trade unions are created to promote a shared ideology and achieve objectives in the public sphere.

Political Organizations. Political parties, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and advocacy groups engaged in activities like lobbying, organizing, and advertising to achieve political goals for their members. Parties are political organizations focusing on winning elections and controlling the government.

Propaganda. Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, is used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Social Media. A type of online technology that allows people to create and share content with others in virtual communities. It involves interactive participation and is a new form of media.

Traditional Journalism. Also known as legacy or mainstream media, it comprises television, radio, newspapers, news magazines, and online versions. These forms of media are regulated by media law and press ethics—and were once considered the most trustworthy sources for news. Before the internet, they were the only means of information dissemination.

Twitterer. Someone who posts short messages or information on the social media platform formerly Twitter.  

Wikiquotes[edit | edit source] edit

Wikiquote is a free online compendium of sourced quotations from notable people and creative works in every language, translations of non-English quotes, and links to Wikipedia for further information.

Propaganda is a monologue that is not looking for an answer, but an echo.

— W. H. Auden

The lowest form of popular culture—lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives—has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.

— Carl Bernstein.

My definition of fake news is a content-like object that is a story, an article, a video, a tweet that has been fabricated, completely invented out of thin air, intentionally for the purpose of misleading.

— Vivian Schiller

I suppose, in the end, we journalists try - or should try - to be the first impartial witnesses of history. If we have any reason for our existence, the least must be our ability to report history as it happens so that no one can say: "We didn't know - no one told us."

— Robert Fisk

While we claim to live in an information age, disinformation has become the order of the day.

— Farid A. Malik

Further Reading[edit | edit source] edit

  • Allyn, Bobby. “Deepfake Video of Zelenskyy Could Be ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ in Info War, Experts Warn.” NPR, NPR, 16 Mar. 2022. Hackers circulated a fake video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on social media and a news website before being debunked and removed. Accessed 13 December 2023.
  • Arguedas, Amy Ross, et al. “Echo Chambers, Filter Bubbles, and Polarization: A Literature Review.” Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 19 Jan. 2022. The authors review social science work on online echo chambers, their causes, effects, and how they shape public understanding of science. Accessed 13 December 2023.
  • Bartlett, Bruce R. The Truth Matters: A Citizen’s Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks. 1st ed., Ten Speed Press, 2017. Bartlett offers tips on critical reading, fact-checking, avoiding bias, and identifying trustworthy sources.
  • Hill, Alison. “Citizen Journalism vs. Traditional Journalism - Writer’s Digest.” Writer’s Digest,, 27 Feb. 2022. Alison Hill explores the relationship between citizen journalism and traditional journalism, highlighting their potential to complement each other.
  • Pavlik, John V. “Concept: Media Ethics in the Digital Age.” Media Ethics, 2012. Media ethics guide responsible journalism through principles such as seeking truth, working independently, being accountable, and minimizing harm, with a code that may need updating for innovative technologies and ethical dilemmas, as suggested by Pavlik. Accessed 13 December 2023.
  • Rosenstiel, Tom, et al. "Journalism Ethics and Values: Challenges in the Digital Age." Vimeo, uploaded by Knight Center, 29 April 2014. At a journalism symposium in 2013, experts discussed the challenges posed by digital news and how ethics can be applied in real-world situations. Accessed 13 December 2023.
  • “Reliable Sources/Perennial Sources.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Dec. 2023. This page lists sources discussed for their reliability and use on Wikipedia. Accessed 13 December 2023.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source] edit

  • What would you say to someone who argues that identifying fake news should lie solely with the reader?  
  • What would you say to someone who argues that ethical guidelines may stifle free speech and limit the diversity of opinions expressed in citizen journalism?  
  • What would you say to someone who argues that labeling a Facebook post as "disputed" may increase the percentage of readers who believe the false news due to the backfire effect?  
  • What about those who argue that citizen journalism can lead to a lack of accountability and professionalism in reporting?  
  • What would you say to someone who argues that readers should be responsible for verifying the accuracy of the news they read instead of relying on media outlets to fact-check?  
  • What about those who argue that fake news, misinformation, and disinformation have always existed and are not a new phenomenon in digital news media?  
  • What would you say to someone who argues that fake news is not a significant issue because it only affects unsuspecting people who are easily fooled?  
  • What would you say to someone who argues that people should be responsible for fact-checking news stories rather than relying on media outlets to differentiate between real and fake news?  
  • What would you say to someone who argues that people who consume fake news are responsible for their misinformation and should be more critical of the sources they trust?