Truthiness in private spaces

“Mobile chat applications allow private and segmented conversations, different interpretations, and different sets of facts.”

In this year’s election, one of the inescapable media trends was the dissemination — in large numbers, across borders, from an ever-growing set of “news organizations” — of news stories light on truth. Many of these stories were produced in “fake news” shops and circulated in ideologically friendly online communities.

valerie-belair-gagnonWhile many of these stories were easily disprovable, they nevertheless found millions of people willing to read, comment on, and forward them to other users. Years after Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness,” today internet users have access to not just tilted news but also fake news, so they can easily locate the truth they want to exist.

In the coming years, the fragmentation of online discourse will allow for many more “truths” to exist. As Colin Agur, Nicholas Frisch, and I recently found out in a recently released Tow/Knight report, mobile chat applications allow private and segmented conversations, different interpretations, and different sets of facts.

While these new digital spaces provide opportunities for democratization of knowledge (e.g. more people can access information) and the emergence of important new players (e.g. digital fixers), they can also allow falsehoods to endure and shape opinion. A recent Stanford study found that the vast majority of middle-school students can hardly tell the difference between real and fake news.

For scholars looking ahead to the coming year, many questions await. What is the outlook for low-information users? How can news organizations develop content that can reach users in private spaces? And given the profits enjoyed by fake news shops in 2016, how can serious news organizations compete? The truth is up for grabs and if 2016 is any guide, we may be in for many surprises.

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon is assistant professor of journalism studies at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Trushar Barot   API or die

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities