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Fake news


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A journalism professor explains what is fake news and how to spot it

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Fake news

  1. 1. Prepared by Professor Mark Grabowski
  2. 2. What is fake news? • Stories that look like real news stories but are hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation. • Fake news typically appears on websites that look professional. The stories often relate to topics and people who are trending on Google and Facebook. The stories usually have outrageous headlines designed to get people to click.
  3. 3. Why spread fake news? • Sometimes these stories are created to attract an audience and the advertising revenues that come with it. Sometimes these stories are published to harm someone’s reputation.
  4. 4. Always been a problem
  5. 5. Tabloid journalism
  6. 6. Growing problem in recent years • News is no longer monopolized by “legacy media” – newspapers, TVs and radio. • Anyone can start a blog and claim to be a journalist. Most fake news comes from websites. • Less librarians, who traditionally taught research skills. • Media literacy is no longer taught at many schools. People are gullible and can’t distinguish real news from fake, studies show. They view the media as the monolith. • Crazy presidential election numbed our sense of shock. Truth was stranger than fiction.
  7. 7. Consequences • Fake news sometimes gets more views than real news. • Sometimes politicians and professional journalists even quote fake news stories! • Sometimes people engage in illegal and violent behavior as a result of believing a fake news story.
  8. 8. How to spot fake news Determine where the info comes from
  9. 9. Looks can be deceiving: Fake news sites often try to mimic real news sites. For example, this one may lead readers to believe it’s from
  10. 10. Obscure sources may be OK … Just because you haven’t heard of a news outlet or website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fake. These are all legit.
  11. 11. Pay attention to the URL • Sites with such endings like should make you raise your eyebrows and tip you off that you need to dig around more to see if they can be trusted. • This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi-recognizable logos. For example, is a legitimate news source, but is not, despite its similar appearance.
  12. 12. looks a lot like the real But, look closely. All the news is fake.
  13. 13. Read the “About Us” section • Most sites will have a lot of information about the news outlet, the company that runs it, members of leadership, and the mission and ethics statement behind an organization. The language used here is straightforward. If it's melodramatic and seems overblown, you should be skeptical.
  14. 14. Also, you should be able to find out more information about the media outlet in places other than that site.
  15. 15. Examine the sources cited • Does the story cite and quote credible sources: a person with a first and last name and a title, such as Mark Grabowski, professor at Adelphi University, or Nicholas P. Episcopia, mayor of Garden City? • If not, or if they use anonymous sources or vague references to sources, such as sources said, according to reports, friends and family say, etc. be suspicious.
  16. 16. Examples
  17. 17. Popularity doesn’t equal reliability • A top ranking on Google doesn’t mean an article is trustworthy. The rankings are based on several factors, including popularity. • Just because it’s trending on social media doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy. Fake news stories often get more views than real news stories.
  18. 18. Utilize fact- checking sites Fake news stories that go viral are often exposed by such websites as, and Following these sites on Twitter and Facebook will yield a steady stream of informative posts.
  19. 19. But, fake news lists are often wrong • Wikipedia has a list of fake news sites, but it includes some legitimate news sites, such as Vice, Slate, The Blaze, Daily Beast. Anyone can edit Wikipedia and sometimes its articles get vandalized with false info. • A communication professor created a fake news list that was widely circulated, but it also contains legitimate news sites. It appears the professor had an axe to grind against certain sites.
  20. 20. Other tricky situations
  21. 21. Opinion vs. fact
  22. 22. Biased News
  23. 23. Satire Satirical commentary TV shows which comment on real-world news events, such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, or wholly fictionalized news stories, such as The Onion.
  24. 24. Faux News
  25. 25. “Almost everything about these sites is fake,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor. Advertorials
  26. 26. Common on social media
  27. 27. Government-sponsored news • Many countries do not offer the same press freedom that the United States does. Media that is not free and independent should be viewed skeptically. • In China, many (but not all) media outlets are government-run, such as Xinhua, CCTV, and People's Daily. • Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar.
  28. 28. Irresponsible journalism • Sometimes even trusted news outlets spread fake news. Sources may lie to reporters. Journalists may fabricate or exaggerate news. Laziness and deadlines pressures can lead to mistakes being made. Journalists sometimes fall victims to pranks or hackers.
  29. 29. Rolling Stone
  30. 30. War in Iraq
  31. 31. TV news scandals
  32. 32. Digitally- altered images
  33. 33. Final advice
  34. 34. Stop getting your news from social media Facebook is good for many things, but it’s not a news source. Facebook’s job is to keep you clicking, and it does that by tweaking your newsfeed so you only see what you want to see. Go to Facebook to talk to friends, but go elsewhere for your news.
  35. 35. Consumer a variety of media • Some journalists and media outlets do a better job than others at being impartial. But journalists are only human, so they’re all at least a little biased in some way. • Some media outlets do a better job than other at covering particular subjects, such as local news, national politics and international news. • So, be an eclectic news consumer. Don’t just read the New York Times or just listen to Rush Limbaugh. Consume a variety of media. • But make sure it’s not fake news, of course!
  36. 36. Support good journalism Ultimately consumers will be the gatekeepers by deciding who gets clicks, retweets, shares and which stories don’t get attention.
  37. 37. Do your own newsgathering • Connect with your local community in person. Social media and being “too busy” has given us an excuse to stop talking to each other. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to strangers while in line at the grocery store. Get out of your social media echo chamber and find out what’s happening in the world. Educate yourself through conversation.
  38. 38. About the presenter • Mark Grabowski is a journalism professor at Adelphi University in New York, a lawyer and a syndicated columnist. For more info or to contact him, visit