Un-faking the news

“We need to vaccinate the public with real journalism: explaining in detail how we come to a conclusion, how facts are gathered, what should be considered a fact and why — how journalism works.”

Much has been said and written about fake news. It all boils down to this: It’s the arch nemesis of journalism. The moment you get involved, you get infected. You draw attention to this nonsense, spreading rumors by debunking them.

ole-reissmannSo far, we’ve ignored the worst rumors, the most absurd conspiracy theories. When they went low, we stood clear. But does this work anymore? We face a dilemma: We can ignore the fake news and become part of the story. (See what they don’t tell you!) Or we can take rumors seriously, invest resources, and fact-check them. (If they deny it, it must be true!)

How do you argue with people for whom facts are negotiable? How do you reach out to people who are opposed to the principles of journalism? Because it’s not enough to warn our users about fake news: We need to reach the users who stay away from us. We need to enter the filter bubbles where conspiracy theories flourish, to understand the attraction, aesthetics, and economics of fake news, the mechanisms by which rumors spread on social media and enter search results. Then, we need to use this knowledge to disrupt the self-enforcing circle of rumors and fake news.

We need to vaccinate the public with real journalism: explaining in detail how we come to a conclusion, how facts are gathered, what should be considered a fact and why — how journalism works.

One could argue that we’re not responsible — that parents, schools, and others are to blame. While there might be some truth to that, it doesn’t help. Un-faking the news is no easy task. It doesn’t promise us a pot of gold. And we won’t convince everyone. But it’s our civic duty to try, because we can’t entrust technology companies with editorial decisions. And we certainly cannot let governments and their agencies decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not.

This task requires journalists and publishers that care deeply about democracy and freedom of speech. When fake news hits, we need to hit back, vigorously.

Ole Reißmann is founder and managing editor of bento, a publication of Der Spiegel.

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

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

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

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

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

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

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Trushar Barot   API or die

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

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

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

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

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

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

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks