From the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School, links to peer-reviewed articles.
From the Nieman Foundation at Harvard; several articles on fake news and news literacy
Stanford University study on high school and college students (lack of) news literacy
Report from Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University
One of the ways in which a news source demonstrates its authenticity and responsibility to its readers is through a publicly accessible code of ethics or standards. A sample of various codes, mission statements and ethics handbooks are listed below.
The Exercise: Your job is to fact-check the content, evaluate the author's background in the subject he/she writes about, and determine the journalistic standards, values, ethics, or guidelines used by the source. Can you find a standard of commitment to journalistic integrity in these news sources?
Credit: Links to articles created by Kelee Pacion, Mann Library, Cornell University.
Social Media/Search Engine Bias
Social media and web search engine algorithms are deliberately opaque. Algorithms often reinforce our existing biases. Unlike media stories, how these online tools distribute fake news is not open to scrutiny. In this opinion article from the New York Times, "How to Monitor Fake News," Tom Wheeler suggests a way to open up social media algorithms to public scrutiny without compromising individual privacy.
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.
CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information
CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.) Some articles fall under more than one category. Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.
Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake? Indiana University Library offers the following summary:
Fake News: Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports
Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.
Extreme Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.
Conspiracy Theory: Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories.
Rumor Mills: Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.
State-sponsored News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction. Propaganda.
Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.
Hate News: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.
Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.
Proceed With Caution: Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification.
Political: Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.
Credible: Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).