Pants were on fire when PolitiFact covered Alabama's Senate race 1/29/18

By Jane Nicholes, SNPA Correspondent

PolitiFact is working through May with Alabama Media Group and in Mobile, the Tulsa World in Oklahoma and the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia. PolitiFact staffers do the actual fact-checking and writing while the local news organizations provide ideas, background and potential sources.


Fake news: Wide reach but little impact, study suggests 1/2/18

Fake news evolved from seedy internet sideshow to serious electoral threat so quickly that behavioral scientists had little time to answer basic questions about it, like who was reading what, how much real news they also consumed and whether targeted fact-checking efforts ever hit a target.

Sure, surveys abound, asking people what they remember reading. But these are only as precise as the respondents' shifty recollections and subject to a malleable definition of "fake." The term "fake news" itself has evolved into an all-purpose smear, used by politicians and the president to deride journalism they don't like.

But now the first hard data on fake-news consumption has arrived. Researchers last week posted an analysis of the browsing histories of thousands of adults during the run-up to the 2016 election – a real-time picture of who viewed which fake stories, and what real news those people were seeing at the same time.

Read more from The New York Times


College students write plug-in for browser to fight fake news 1/2/18

By Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press

A team of college students is getting attention from internet companies and Congress after developing a browser extension that alerts users to fake and biased news stories and helps guide them to more balanced coverage.

The plug-in, Open Mind, was developed during a 36-hour problem-solving competition known as a hackathon at Yale University.

The winning team was made up of four students: Michael Lopez-Brau and Stefan Uddenberg, both doctoral students in Yale's psychology department; Alex Cui, an undergraduate who studies machine learning at the California Institute of Technology; and Jeff An, who studies computer science at the University of Waterloo and business at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario.

That team competed against others to win a challenge from Yale's Poynter Fellowship in Journalism, which asked students to find a way to counter fake news.

The team's software, designed as an extension for Google's Chrome browser, will display a warning screen when someone enters a site known to disseminate fake news. It also will alert a reader if a story shared on social media is fake or biased.

Read more from The Associated Press


Leading news outlets establish transparency standards to help readers identify trustworthy news sources 11/20/17

At a time when the public's trust in news is declining in much of the world, the news industry is launching a new set of transparency standards that help people easily assess the quality and reliability of journalism.

Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display Trust Indicators, which provide clarity on the organizations' ethics and other standards, the journalists' backgrounds, and how they do their work. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organizations as part of the nonpartisan Trust Project, also show what type of information people are reading – news, opinion, analysis or advertising.

Read more from the Trust Project


Three McClatchy newsrooms to join News Co/Lab Initiative 11/6/17

McClatchy has announced that three newsrooms will join an innovative initiative to strengthen news literacy, credibility and public trust.

The Telegraph, in Macon, Ga., and The Modesto Bee, in central valley California, will join The Kansas City Star as part of News Co/Lab, a collaborative project developed by Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and supported by the Facebook Journalism Project and the News Integrity Initiative.

The three local newsrooms will launch a variety of experiments to improve the public's ability to understand how news works, build public trust in reporting, increase transparency in how news is produced, improve community engagement with newsrooms and gather feedback. The Cronkite School will track the success of these steps and share best practices and models that work.


PolitiFact, Alabama Media Group find plenty of work to do 9/26/17

By Jane Nicholes, SNPA Correspondent

As Republicans head to the polls today for the nationally watched runoff election between U.S. Senate candidates Luther Strange and Roy Moore, PolitiFact has focused its Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking forces on Alabama.

But its mission isn't only about sorting out who's telling the truth and who isn't in the primary contest to replace Jeff Sessions, now U.S. attorney general. PolitiFact is researching what people think about the organization itself and other news media outlets in some of the politically reddest places in the country: Mobile, Ala.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Charleston, W.Va. The goal is to improve credibility all around.


SNPA papers hold fast to protocols that guard against fake news 5/23/17

By Christy Oglesby, Special to the SNPA eBulletin

Like other mainstream newspapers, the Hope Star and the Times Free Press in Chattanooga hold fast to protocols that guard against the publication of fake news. Some require a minimum of three named sources for every story. Others forbid unnamed sources. Period.

With the introduction of "fake news" and "alternative facts" into the nation's lexicon, those reporting guidelines are what distinguish these newspapers from news outlets that operate without them.

From Alaska to Pennsylvania and all points in between, reputable newspapers strive to eschew fast and first to deliver only facts.


AP collaborates with SAM to launch AP Social Newswire 5/22/17

The Associated Press will work with social media management platform SAM to launch the AP Social Newswire, a feed of user-generated content (UGC) being vetted and verified by AP's social media experts and editors across the globe.

The AP Social Newswire will allow customers to discover and inspect user-generated content as it comes into the AP newsroom, offering real-time access to the news agency's UGC verification process through the SAM platform.


Critical Thinking: Should journalists be allowed to participate in political events if they aren't covering them? 4/25/17

Objectivity is often considered a core covenant of journalistic integrity. Reporters are encouraged to avoid any appearance of bias in both their jobs and their day-to-day lives. However, transparency is another aspect of journalism that is arguably as – if not more – important.

Read more from Editor & Publisher.


Fake news is a real dilemma for the law 2/21/17

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

The labelling of information as "fake news" has become yet another weapon in battles of the Trump presidency, used by the administration and its supporters as well as its critics.

But the label has been applied to a wide variety of information, including both reporting errors and truthful information that the person applying the "fake news" label does not like or approve of. The label has also been applied to intentionally inaccurate, incomplete or misleading information disseminated in the media, and sometimes by official White House spokespeople.

With all these allegations of "fake news," it has become unclear what the term actually means, and how it differs from spin and framing of news and events. But it seems safe to define it as untruthful information made public by a seemingly journalistic entity with the intention of misleading the public, often to score a political point. Such "news" may be politically and socially undesirable. But it would likely be difficult to combat such information and its purveyors legally because of the legal principles that have developed to protect news and commentary under the First Amendment.

Read more from Eric Robinson