UMass Fake News Website Helps Identify Questionable Sources | Connecting Point | Sept. 12, 2018

UMass Fake News Website Helps Identify Questionable Sources | Connecting Point | Sept. 12, 2018


FAKE NEWS. FAKE NEWS. WE HEAR
THE PHRASE A LOT. BUT HOW DO YOU
SORT OUT FACT FROM FICTION? UMASS JOURNALISM PROFESSOR STEVE
FOX AND LIBRARIAN LISA DI VALENTINO HAVE A WEBSITE THAT’S
DESIGNED TO DO JUST THAT — AND THEY JOINED ME RECENTLY IN THE
STUDIO TO TALK ABOUT IT.>>WELL, IN ABOUT APRIL OR MAY
OF LAST YEAR, THE LIBRARY WAS CONTACTED BY SOMEONE FROM THE
JOURNALISM DEPARTMENT AND THEY WERE GOING TO PUT TOGETHER A
COURSE ABOUT FAKE NEWS IN THE JOURNALISM DEPARTMENT AND THEY
WANTED SOME KIND OF RESOURCE TO SUPPORT IT FROM THE LIBRARY, SO
THEY KNEW THAT WE HAVE THESE LIBRARY GUIDES FOR OTHER COURSES
SO THEY WANTED ONE OF US TO DEVELOP THESE LIBRARY GUIDES FOR
THESE FAKE JOURNALISM COURSE AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A GREAT IDEA
AND I VOLUNTEERED TO DO IT AND THAT’S HOW THAT CAME ABOUT.>>SO HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT
SHOULD GO ON THE WEBSITE?>>WELL, I WANTED TO MAKE IT
COMPREHENSIVE BUT AT THE SAME TIME I DIDN’T WANT TO OVERWHELM
PEOPLE WITH INFORMATION BECAUSE THAT’S SOME OF THE PROBLEM WITH
THE, YOU KNOW, INFORMATION ENVIRONMENT THAT WE’RE LIVING.>>YES. SO I WANTED TO HAVE SOMETHING
THAT KIND OF — THE MAIN WEBSITES AND SOMETHING GRAPHICAL
THAT WOULD PUT FORTH KIND OF THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF FAKE NEWS
AND HOW TO SPOT FAKE NEWS AND I WANTED TO MAKE IT EASY TO USE
ASSIG — FOUND AN INFO GRAPHIC FROM
THE NATIONAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATIONS.>>IT’S REALLY STREAMLINED
THERE’S LIKE 8 SECTIONS THAT KIND OF DRAW YOUR ATTENTION.>>YES, EXACTLY AND IT’S REALLY
NOTICEABLE AND PEOPLE WILL REALLY WANT TO LOOK AT THAT AND
SEE WHAT IT SAYS AND THERE ARE OTHER TABS ON THE SITE THAT TALK
ABOUT — THEY HAVE RESOURCES WHERE YOU CAN GO TO SEE IF A
CERTAIN PIECE OF INFORMATION IS TRUE OR NOT. IF YOU SEE SOMETHING ON
FACEBOOK, YOU CAN GO TO SNOPES OR POLITICALA FACT OR MEDIA BIAS
TO CHECK OUT THE REPUTATION OF DIFFERENT SITES AND THEN THERE’S
ALSO SOME RESOURCES WHERE IF YOU WANT TO DO YOUR OWN KIND OF
INVESTIGATION INTO IT, SO SOME SITES THAT YOU CAN GO TO, TO
FIND ARTICLES AND PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES AND THAT SORT OF THING,
IF THERE’S SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE WANTING TO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH
INTO.>>SO PROFESSOR FOX, I KNOW YOU
HAVEN’T HAD A CHANCE TO USE THIS IN-CLASS YET BUT YOU WILL BE
USING IT WITH STUDENTS IN THE FALL. HOW DO YOU ANTICIPATE USING THE
SITE IN CLASS?>>WELL, THE CLASS IS ACTUALLY A
LEADERSHIP CLASS. I TRY TO AVOID THE TERM “FAKE
NEWS” BECAUSE IT HAS A LOT OF MULTIPLE DEFINITIONS BECAUSE A
LOT OF THE CONCEPTS ON THE SITE ARE KIND OF THE CONCEPTS THAT
WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IN THE CLASS. I’VE BEEN DOING THE CLASS FOR 5
YEARS NOW BUT HAVING ALL THAT INFORMATION IN ONE LOCATION, YOU
KNOW, HAVING IT UMASS-BASED IS KIND OF TOOL AND THEY’LL BE ABLE
TO RELATE TO IT.>>HOW DO YOU HELP STUDENTS
UNDERSTAND THOSE DEFINITIONS OF FOX NEWS BECAUSE THERE’S ACTUAL
FAKE NEWS OUT THERE, SITES THAT ARE CREATED TO INTENTIONALLY
MISLEAD PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME, WE HAVE THE PRESIDENT AND OTHER
FOLKS MOST COMMONLY THE PRESIDENT WHO WILL POINT TO
SOMETHING THAT MAYBE HE DISAGREES WITH AND CALL THAT
FOX NEWS.>>RIGHT, THAT’S EXACTLY IT. I USUALLY START UP THE SEMESTER
SAYING THAT FOX NEWS IS A REALLY LOADED TERM. IT’S BECOME HIGHLY POLITICIZED
AND WEAPONIZED AND WHAT I TRY TO FOCUS ON IS MORE CONCEPT
VERIFICATION WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THERE ARE THESE — THE
TROLL FORMS OUT THERE AND THIS SITE IS A GREAT RESOURCE IS A
GREAT SITE TO FIGURE IT OUT AND TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM THAT
PHRASE BECAUSE IT’S INFLAMED PEOPLE.>>IT GETS USED AROUND, AND
LISA, IT’S INTERESTING I NOTICED YOUR BACKGROUND IS LAW IN PUBLIC
POLICY AND I KNOW THERE’S LIBEL LAWS AND PEOPLE CAN USE THE TOOL
IF SOMETHING IS SAID THAT’S UNTRUE ABOUT THEM BUT ARE THERE
OTHER LAW MECHANISMS AT THIS POINT IF FAKE NEWS IS OUT THERE? CAN THAT BE PROSECUTED?>>WELL, THAT’S SOMETHING THAT’S
BEEN DISCUSSED IN LEGAL CIRCLES AND, IN FACT, EARLIER THIS YEAR
IN JANUARY, HE WENT TO A LEGAL SYMPOSIUM AT SOUTHWESTERN LAW
WHERE THEY WERE DISCUSSING THIS VERY CONCEPT OF HOW THE LAW
CAN — IF THE LAW SHOULD STEP IN AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT FOX NEWS. IT SEEMS THAT THERE’S KIND
OF — WE HAVE TO BALANCE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FOX NEWS WITH
CONSEQUENCES OF RESTRICTING PEOPLE’S FREEDOM OF SPEECH AS
WELL AND ESPECIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES FREEDOM OF SPEECH
IS A VERY IMPORTANT RIGHT THAT PEOPLE HAVE. IT’S IN THE CONSTITUTION AND
IT’S CONSIDERED TO BE ALMOST INVOLUME LATABLE THEN MAYBE IN
SOME OTHER COUNTRIES. IF THERE IS GOING TO BE ANYTHING
LEGAL DONE ABOUT IT, I CAN’T REALLY THINK RIGHT NOW WHAT THAT
MIGHT BE, FOR EXAMPLE, THERE MIGHT BE A CIVIL SUIT FOR, YOU
KNOW, SOMEONE WHO IS AFFECTED BY FAKE NEWS, FOR EXAMPLE, ALEX
JONES, THE COMMUTATOR BEING SUED BY PARENTS OF SANDY HOOK VICTIMS
BECAUSE OF THINGS THAT HE SAID —
>>HE’S BEEN TAKEN DOWN BY YOUTUBE AND OTHER SITES.>>YEAH.>>PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE ARE
FRUSTRATED WELL, THIS IS HIS OPINION. HE HAS A RIGHT TO IT SO THERE’S
THAT TENSION THERE.>>EXACTLY, EXACTLY. THERE’S A TENSION. SO IT’S — THERE IS REALLY
NOTHING THAT I KNOW OF THAT’S KIND OF ON THE PIKE. THERE MIGHT BE SOME BILLS IN
CONGRESS –>>IT’S AN EVOLVING THING AND
IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY ONE WAY OR THE OTHER WHICH WAY THE
WIND WILL BLOW.>>THE IDEA OF REGULATION, YOU
KNOW, SCARES ME, AND TO ME THE KEY IS EDUCATION, AND SO THAT’S
ONE OF THE LARGE IMPETUS WAS LAS WAS TO EDUCATE STUDENTS AT THIS
LEVEL. WE TARGET FRESHMAN AND
SOPHOMORES. NOW IT’S OPEN TO NONJOURNALISM
MAJORS AS WELL AS JOURNALISM MAJORS BUT I THINK THIS HAS TO
BE TAUGHT AT THE HIGH SCHOOL AND MIDDLE SCHOOL AND ELEMENTARY
LEVELS, YOU KNOW, TARGET YOUTH TO UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF GOOD
SOURCING, THE VALUE OF CREDIBLE INFORMATION AND WHAT IS AND WHAT
ISN’T NEWS.>>ESPECIALLY BECAUSE KIDS FROM
KINDERGARTEN RIGHT ON UP ARE USING THE INTERNET AS A TOOL SO
THESE THE THINGS MAKE SENSE THAT THEY WOULD GO HAND-IN-HAND. STEVE FOR YOU A JOURNALIST AT
THE “WASHINGTON POST” IN THE EARLY TO MID-’90s WHEN NEWS
ONLINE WAS THIS NEW FOREIGN CONCEPT. HOW HAS THIS EVOLVE, THIS ONLINE
NEWS PROCESS? HOW HAVE YOU WATCHED IT EVOLVED.>>YOU KNOW, WE COULD SPEND A
LOT OF TIME SPEAKING OF THE EVOLUTION OF THE WEB AND WEB
JOURNALISM BUT I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HOW THERE WAS THIS GREAT
IDEA AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WEB, WEB JOURNALISM WHERE THE
IDEA OF BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE AND
SHARING YOUR IDEAS IT WAS KIND OF THIS UTOPIAN VIEW OF THE
UNIVERSE, YOU KNOW, AND IT’S BECOME, YOU KNOW, MORE AND MORE
NOW WHERE WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE USING THE WEB TO
TROLL PEOPLE, TO BAD MOUTH PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, THE AMOUNT OF
THE TROLLING THAT JOURNALISTS ESPECIALLY WOMEN JOURNALISTS GO
ONLINE IS JUST HORRIBLE TO WATCH. SO IT’S KIND OF — YOU’VE SEEN
THIS EVOLUTION TO HAVING THIS REALLY UTOPIAN IDEAL TO NOT TOO
MUCH. YOU GIVE A VOICE TO A LOT OF
PEOPLE INCLUDING PEOPLE WHO ARE USING IT FOR VITRIOL AND HATE
AND IT’S — IT’S KIND OF SAD TO SEE BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT’S
LIKE I REALLY, YOU KNOW — HOW DO YOU CONTROL THAT.>>A POWERFUL TOOL AND IT CAN
ALSO BE USED FOR LESS THAN POWERFUL REASONS.>>RIGHT.>>I ALSO WANT TO LET FOLKS
KNOW, THIS IS NOT LIMITED ONLY TO UMASS STUDENTS. THE PUBLIC CAN USE THIS SITE.>>YES, EXACTLY. SOME OF THE DATABASES I LINK
ONSITE ARE ONLY AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE AT UMASS BUT IF YOU GO TO
THE CAMPUS, INTO THE LIBRARY, ANYONE CAN USE ONE OF OUR PUBLIC
COMPUTERS AND ACCESS THESE DATABASES AND ALSO SPRINGFIELD
PUBLIC LIBRARY HAS A LOT OF DATABASES AS WELL.>>TERRIFIC.>>AND ACTUALLY THE COOL THING
IS THAT LISA TWEETED IT OUT AND I RE-TWEETED IT AND THEN OTHER
PEOPLE RETWEET IT SO THE BENEFIT IS THAT WE’RE ABLE TO SPREAD IT
OUT AND SHARE IT WITH PEOPLE. ♪

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