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.

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

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

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Trushar Barot   API or die

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

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

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

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

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

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

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

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

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

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

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

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community