IS THAT A FACT?
Truth Decay: Why Americans are turning away from facts
Season 1 Episode 9
About The Episode
Our guest this week is Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior political scientist at RAND corporation, a nonprofit global public policy think tank. Our host spoke to Kavanagh about a phenomenon she and her colleagues have dubbed “Truth Decay.” We wanted to know why truth has been under assault in recent years, why Americans are increasingly rejecting the expertise of institutions we used to hold in high esteem and what we can do about it?
Kavanagh is the director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program in the RAND Arroyo Center and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Her research focuses on U.S. defense strategy, international conflict and military interventions, disinformation, and the relationship between U.S. political and media institutions. She co-authored Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life.
Coming up: Join us on November 18 at 5:30 p.m. EST for our final episode, which we’ll be recording live on Zoom, featuring Jane Lytvynenko of BuzzFeed News, Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard and Enrique Acevedo of 60 Minutes’ new show 60 in 6. Our panel of experts will offer insights about how mis-and dis-information impacted the election. For details, visit newslit.org.
Darragh Worland: Welcome back to Is that a fact?, brought to you by the nonprofit News Literacy Project. I’m your host, Darragh Worland. Today, for the ninth episode of our 10-part series, we’ll talk to Jennifer Kavanaugh about a phenomenon she and her colleagues refer to as “truth decay.” Kavanaugh is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, global, public policy think tank. She also leads RAND’s Countering Truth Decay initiative, a portfolio of projects exploring the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in U.S. political and civil discourse. We wanted to talk to Kavanaugh to better understand why truth has been under assault in recent years, why Americans are increasingly rejecting the expertise of institutions we used to hold in high esteem, and what we can do about it.
So as part of your research at RAND, Jennifer, you set out to examine whether there’s been a decline in truth in our public discourse. How did you define truth? And what does it mean in the context of your report?
Jennifer Kavanagh: We focused on facts as the basis of what we were referring to as truth. So, the concept of truth decay, more generally, is the term that we use at RAND to refer to the diminishing role that facts, data and analysis play in our political and civil discourse. So truth decay is a way to summarize that process, but what we’re really concerned about is the decaying role that facts and data and rigorous analyses are playing in the policy-making process, and the way we discuss issues, and the way we think about those issues, and in the way decisions are made – both at the individual level and the policymaker level. So that’s how we focused the concept for the purpose of our book.
Worland: The term truth decay was coined as part of this work, right?
Kavanagh: That’s correct.
Worland: Why truth decay? How did that come to you?
Kavanagh: Well, actually, the person who came up with it, her name is Sonni Efron and she is now no longer at RAND, but she was a communication analyst here, a former employee at the L.A. Times. And so we were looking for a way to summarize this concept, to describe it succinctly in a way that didn’t take more than one or two words. And she came up with this phrase, truth decay, which I think captures the essence of what we’re experiencing in a pithy and memorable way that helps us to describe it very easily. It’s something that everybody feels and doesn’t have a term for or words for. And so I think truth decay was appealing to people and to us because it filled that space.
Worland: So let’s talk about what you found. Has there actually been a decline in truth in the United States?
Kavanagh: The first is the disagreement about objective facts and data. And so that’s something that I think we can track over time in a pretty objective way. For example, we can look at the increasing amount of skepticism in the United States over vaccines. We’ve seen that increase over time, even as we get more and more data that vaccines are safe. Another good example is skepticism about the safety of eating genetically modified foods. In the early 2000s, it was pretty consistent that when that question was asked on the surveys, about 20% of people said that they didn’t think that genetically modified foods were safe to eat. And in 2015, almost 60% of people said that they didn’t think genetically modified foods were safe to eat, even though in those intervening years, we’ve gotten more evidence that they are generally safe, that there aren’t adverse health consequences.
You can see the same sort of trend when you look at crime data, if you want to move out of the scientific realm into something else. As violent crime has become less common, an increasing number of people think that that rate is actually increasing. So it’s this divergence between the data that we have, and people’s beliefs that we’re pointing to. And I think that you can very clearly see is getting worse over time.
Worland: So it’s like public opinion versus facts. There’s like an inverse relationship almost and disagreement between them.
Kavanagh: That’s right. That’s what we were able to observe when we looked into these data trends. That’s probably one of the most important aspects of truth decay. It’s the one that we’re able to measure probably the most clearly. It’s also when we look back over time, when we see other periods that have other characteristics that are similar to today, but that’s one that we don’t see. And so I think that that’s one reason to remark it as particularly important.
Do you want to talk about the other elements of truth decay?
Kavanagh: The second and the third trends, I think, we can talk about together. The first of those two is a blurring of the line between fact and opinion. You can see this on social media, on cable news, in the newspaper, anywhere where facts and opinion and falsehood are presented in a way that’s sort of interchangeable. It makes it hard for the individual to distinguish between the two. A good example would be news analysis pieces that you might see in The New York Times or in The Washington Post even, where there are some facts, but it’s also the journalist’s analysis of those facts. So it’s not exactly opinion, but it’s not exactly fact. So how do you disentangle those?
Worland: So it’s like the presentation of fact and opinion is intermingled. It’s not so much that people are not able to distinguish between the two, or is it both?
Kavanagh: Well people generally aren’t always that good at distinguishing between facts and opinion. It can be hard, especially when you’re reading things on social media, when you’re reading things quickly or when you’re simply not used to the activity of distinguishing between facts and opinion. At the same time, it’s being presented in a way that’s increasingly commingled. So I’ve talked to some journalists who are now no longer working as journalists or who have moved on, who spent decades working in journalism, who said that when they started out, there was a very clear delineation between straight reporting and opinion pieces. And now that distinction is blurred, and part of that is a shift towards edgier content, the shift to shorter things that are presented online, and the changing economics of the industry, which mean that journalists have to pay attention to how many clicks or how many eyes they can attract to their article.
And doing that requires having some kind of take. If you present analysis as fact, that can be confusing to people, because then they take that lens that they’re seeing it through, which is the journalist’s lens, as an objective one. And that’s not, that’s not accurate.
Worland: How much do you think television has, or TV news has contributed – and particularly 24-hour news – has contributed to the blurring of those lines?
Kavanagh: Yeah, well, I think it’s a significant characteristic of television news, especially when you look at cable. So a couple of years ago, we did a study where we used a text analysis software that we have here called RAND-Lex, and it basically looks at content. It can look at the style and the tone, and we used it to try to look at how much emotion and opinion and subjective language is in several different types of media. So we looked at newspapers, we looked at broadcast television, cable television and online journalism, which we define as things like Politico, Breitbart, things that don’t have a paper version that are just online. What we found is that this type of subjective, emotional, argumentative advocacy-based content is much more common on cable news and in online journalism than you see in broadcast television news or print – traditional newspapers.
Worland: And what are some of the other elements of truth decay?
Kavanagh: So the third is just simply the increasing volume of opinion and commentary that’s out there that can make it hard to find facts. As we’ve gotten more [into] the 24/7 news cycle, as we’ve gotten social media, the time spent discussing and talking and writing about news has really increased. But the number of events that happen – even though sometimes it feels like more events are happening –it’s the same kind of number of things, it’s just that we’re talking about them so much more. That’s not all fact-based. A lot of it is opinion and commentary. And part of that is driven by the shifting economics of the industry. Profit margins are shrinking as social media really revolutionizes the industry, which means that journalists may not have the time or the resources to always do the hard-hitting investigative pieces that take months to research and write.
And certainly, there is that content. We’ve seen a lot of it in recent years, but we also see this explosion in the shorter commentary-based pieces. The media space is much more crowded, and a lot of that crowding isn’t with facts. So even the best-intentioned person going to look for factual information on a topic may have to work really hard to find those objective facts buried beneath all the commentary analysis and spin.
Worland: And then are there any other elements that are contributing to truth decay?
Kavanagh: One more has to do with trust, and that’s declining trust in institutions that used to be looked to as sources of factual information. So places like the government and the media that used to have reasonably high trust as places that people felt they could turn to get that objective information, that trust across the board has really fallen, especially true of the government, also true of media, and true of other institutions as well among different segments of the population. And that’s problematic because now not only do people struggle to figure out what’s true and what’s not, what’s a fact and what’s opinion, but at the same time, they also have to figure out who is the trusted arbiter or the person they can look to, to find out those answers.
Worland: This is something we’ve heard throughout our interviews during the series, is this falling trust in institutions that people used to turn to for their facts, just as you’re saying. Why do you think that’s happening? Why are people turning away from these institutions that used to be trusted?
Kavanagh: Well, I think that there’s a number of different reasons. The first reason has to do with some of the failures that these institutions have had. I mean, some of the decline in trust, some of the skepticism that people hold for government agencies, or for the media, or for scientific institutions is based on past guidance that’s turned out not to be right. And I think when that happens, when the government or the media or another institution has to change their story, that can be disconcerting and disorienting to people. Now, if you take a step back and you think about the fact that sometimes changes in opinion or changes in guidance come from evolving data – we get better data, we get better methods, that’s what’s supposed to happen. If you don’t have that perspective, if you haven’t been brought up with sort of a scientific mindset, then that may not be the lesson you take away. It can be hard for someone looking at say, information on whether or not coffee is good for your health or bad for your health, right?
If it’s changing every week, that really undermines trust in those institutions. I think the second piece has to do with the ubiquity of the internet. The ability to find any information that you want there, means that people often feel a false sense of confidence in their ability to find out the facts themselves. So an example here would be using WebMD researching something and thinking that you know more than a doctor.
Worland: Yeah. I can think of times when I’ve gone to the doctor with a diagnosis and the doctors just rolled their eyes at me.
Kavanagh: I know. And I usually preface it with, “I’m sure this is really annoying, but…,” right?
Worland: Yeah, totally. Well, I think we all do it. It’s like, yes, I have become an amateur orthopedist now. Yeah.
Kavanagh: It’s one thing to do that and kind of recognize that probably you don’t have that expertise, but at the same time, it’s appealing to think that you can get the answers yourself. But then I think that that leads to a decline in people’s willingness to turn to and trust the experts because I saw with my own eyes. I saw this other thing. I saw this other person who had the same symptoms and said that this is what they had, so this must be what I have. And so this ability to confirm our own beliefs and to connect with communities that may confirm those beliefs can be a powerful de-motivator to turn to institutions. You know, anecdotes and personal experience, they tend to overwhelm facts, to overpower facts just because of our cognitive biases.
The way that our brains work make us much more likely to believe something that resonates with us personally. So we may see a million data points about the safety of vaccines or the fact that immigrants don’t reduce wages for American-born workers, but when we hear that one story about that one person, if it’s someone that we know, or it’s an experience that we can relate to, it can really resonate and overwhelm all of that factual evidence.
Worland: Do you think people realize that this is happening? Do they realize they’re turning away from facts or do they not think that’s what’s actually happening? They think they’re turning towards facts, other facts.
Kavanagh: I think it varies by the person. I think there are some people who may get swept up in some of those cognitive biases like believing the experience of their friends and family and the anecdotes and the narratives. One of the things about polarization is that I think it really feeds truth decay by creating these isolated and insulated communities in which only one set of narratives can thrive.
Worland: Can you talk a little bit about some of the historical examples of when we’ve seen truth decay before it was called truth decay kind of emerging, and what they might have in common with our circumstances today?
Kavanagh: Sure. We identify three other periods that share some characteristics with today. The first is the Gilded Age, so the 1890s to early 1900s. The second is the 1920s to 1930s, so the end of the Roaring Twenties, beginning of the Great Depression. And the third is the Vietnam era, so late ’60s, early ’70s. What all of these periods share, and what they share with today, is that in each one there was a revolution in the way information was shared and provided. In the 1880s, 1890s, this is when you had the first mass-produced newspapers. In the 1920s, 1930s, this is when radio became widespread. And the 1960s, early ’70s is really when television became ubiquitous. So, and now we obviously have social media in the current period. And I think that in each of these periods, that itself leads to some of these trends that we talked about before, a blurring of the line between fact and opinion, an increasing volume of commentary and opinion. The ’20s and ’30s is a good example.
In the 1930s, as radio became more widespread, you had a real increase in powerful radio hosts who had their own shows and used those shows to spread their opinions to lots of people, very widely across the country. That should sound really familiar to anyone who’s watched cable news, right? So there’s a really important parallel there. We know a lot about yellow journalism, and yellow journalism has a lot of characteristics that are similar to the disinformation that we see today. One of the reasons why it was more powerful than propaganda or the false information had been in previous decades was that suddenly you had a mass-produced way to spread it to more people.
Worland: For people who don’t know what yellow journalism is, can you just describe it briefly?
Kavanagh: Sure. Yellow journalism was basically the disinformation, or fake news, of the 1890s, early 1900s. So you had these mass-produced newspapers. One of the ways that journalists and the competing paper sold their news was to exaggerate, to tell sensationalized stories with headlines that would attract attention. And this is kind of the cliché of the young boy standing on the corner, screaming about the headline of the paper, “Read all about it.” That was yellow journalism, is the term that they used to describe that type of content.
Worland: So it sounds like when you describe these eras, you’re essentially talking about an adjustment period that the news consumers go through in adjusting to a new medium that maybe they’re not so familiar with. So is it partly a need on the public’s part to learn how to grapple with a new form of communication? And then once they kind of have that under their belts, that truth decay becomes less of an issue because now they’re able to sort of separate fact from opinion, truth from fact, et cetera.
Kavanagh: That’s definitely one thing that we’ve seen, and a great way to describe it is that each of these periods had this adjustment period. I sometimes think about it like the teenage years. It’s a liminal period that’s messy. As people get used to having a new way of consuming and sharing information, it’s not just about people getting more used to it, it’s also about the evolution of the industry and the evolution of standards. So one of the things that contributed to the end of yellow journalism — there, of course, [ are] many factors — was the emergence of a set of standards, a professional code of ethics among journalists in which they really tried to focus in on focusing on fact, reducing the amount of false information or exaggeration. Part of it was an economic shift that the shift to a subscriber-based model, the use of advertising, no longer made the shocking headlines the only way to sell papers.
But part of it is about having rules of the road, having a set of institutions built around the information system. In the current environment, we don’t have that. There’s a lot of debate now about how we want to manage the online space, but we still don’t really have any sort of governance mechanism. By governance, I don’t mean regulation. I just mean a way to manage it.
Worland: So is it that we don’t have it, or is there a ‘yet’ at the end of that? Because it seems to me that the good news of all these previous eras is that they ended, but they took action. So, what might be the countervailing forces to swing the pendulum back to truth again today?
Kavanagh: Well, I think there’s a couple of other dynamics that are worth mentioning I think, and the first is that disinformation and this changing information technology exists in a context. So truth decay isn’t just an information problem. It’s also about the environment in which that information lives. So right now we have a really polarized society. You can see that in other periods as well, different types of polarization, this idea of populism. So, we don’t hear that much talk about it right now, but in the big lead-up to the 2016 election, talking about the return of populism in the United States and the role that was playing was significant. We see a similar type of dynamic in the early Great Depression – this really dissatisfaction with the government. Polarization in the 1920s and 1930s existed largely or most significantly along economic lines. So you have all these factors and we see a lot of those same dynamics today, right?
All the ingredients are the same. The cake came out a little bit differently this time because of the scale and scope of the change that social media has brought. I think in some ways, it’s more challenging and worse, but it’s the same sort of thing. And so I think part of this is about managing the information space, and part of this is about shifts in the political and social system. And the question is whether we can manage that and move it in the direction that we want it intentionally, or whether we’re careening towards some kind of catastrophe that will force that change.
Worland: What do we gain from this? Is there something we’re getting out of this?
Kavanaugh: Well, I think there’s payoff for certain individuals. And I think that this goes a little bit back to your question about do people know they’re turning away from facts? And so we talked a little bit about people who may get sucked into it unintentionally. But there are also people for whom certain facts are inconvenient – inconvenient for their political agendas, their political futures, inconvenient because it doesn’t fit in their worldview, inconvenient because if it’s true, that might have economic implications for them. So for all those reasons, people want to stick to a specific set of arguments that protect their interests. And those interests could be the interests of the policymaker, the corporate backers, or the interests of a specific state over other states, or a specific ideology or a specific party. So what do we as the nation gain? Nothing. What do different special interest groups gain? Well, they gain the ability to advance their specific position. And they may prefer no agreement to an agreement that is unfavorable on those terms.
Worland: So for those who do want to see policy solutions to these issues that are plaguing the country, how do we remedy this? How do we get out of this feedback loop? Where’s the door?
Kavanaugh: Well, I mean I think there’s many different facets of this. So I think in terms of the political realm, what we were just talking about, we just had an election. And I think elections are the ultimate way for change to occur in the political structure. I think there have to be probably structural institutional changes as well, because some of the problems are kind of baked into the way institutions are set up. But fundamentally, if there are policymakers that are not acting in the interests of their constituents, then constituents have the ultimate say in that, which is to vote them out of office. But sometimes partisan ideology is so strong that people adhere to the party line, even if it isn’t in their best interest.
Worland: The presidential election was so close. It almost seems to imply that the country, both red and blue, are operating on different facts, or is it that we’re operating on different ideas about the solutions to the issues?
Kavanaugh: I think it’s some of both. I think that on some issues, we agree on the facts and we disagree on the solutions. But I actually don’t think that’s a problem. I think that’s what’s supposed to happen-
Worland: Disagreeing on the solutions. Yeah.
Kavanaugh: Yeah, we disagree on the solutions. I don’t see that as a problem. I think when you get into these deadlock situations, it’s often because you can’t even start the conversation, or because there’s no tolerance for compromise.
Worland: So if facts really don’t matter anymore, or if we’re rejecting facts, how can society function? Can it?
Kavanagh: Well, I think it can limp along, but I think ultimately you end up at some kind of catastrophe. And I think COVID-19 is kind of a good example. We’ve seen the ways in which focusing on science and data has been really advantageous in the response to COVID. You can look at countries like Australia, Taiwan, where we’ve seen their reliance on science allow them to – and other factors as well, obviously they have some geographic advantages and population size, et cetera – but they’ve been able to control this. And data can help you make trade-offs between say, economic costs and public health costs. It can help you study vaccines and therapeutics and so there’s a number of ways in which data can matter. And we’ve seen countries that have ignored science, pushed aside fact-based evidence, that really does have consequences. And so it’s clearly getting worse. And so at what point does it become sort of unsustainable? But I think that there’s room for more science-based response here.
Worland: We’ve talked about truth decay in the context of the U.S. but isn’t it a global phenomenon?
Kavanagh: Oh, it absolutely is a global phenomenon, but I think it manifests differently in different places. And so I think the U.S. has certain characteristics that make it particularly pernicious. The extreme political polarization is one and also just the individualist streak that is baked into the founding of America, I think, interacts with the idea that I can look online and become an expert. And that just leads to kind of the flowering of a million opinions and everybody has their own view. So I think that that plays a little bit into this.
Worland: What are some of the solutions, whether it’s on the supply side or the demand side?
Kavanagh: I think that solutions to the broader problem of truth decay, in the information realm, are much easier to imagine and much more tractable in terms of making progress towards them. Thinking about No. 1, traditional media, what’s their role? How can they help to counter some of these things? Examples would be thinking about just small changes, like making sure headlines match the content of the article. How many times have you read a headline and you find out the article isn’t really about the headline? The headline was meant to get you to read the article. Doing better in terms of labeling facts and opinion when you have them in print or separating the two in a broadcast television show. But I think that experimentation is one set of things that could happen in the social media space. And then on the demand side, I think you could talk about the power of education. And here I’m talking not only about media literacy, but also about things like science literacy and civic literacy, statistics…
I mean, how can you read articles about polling if you don’t know statistics, if you don’t know about polls? And not many people do, there’s like innumeracy is pretty common. By innumeracy, I don’t mean you can’t add, I just mean you struggle with comparing percentages or interpreting risk. That’s a common cognitive bias that everybody has. Training people in those areas can help them to be smarter consumers of information to help them do the work of distinguishing between facts and opinion themselves. And then, to be more informed not only as consumers of information, but members of society in the ways in which they lobby and then elect leaders.
Worland: Like some civics education.
Kavanagh: Exactly, yeah.
Worland: So are you implying that our education system is not addressing these issues?
Kavanagh: I think that there’s room for improvement. I think a lot of schools have recognized this as a gap and are working really hard to expand the offerings in that area. But schools are under a tremendous amount of pressure, especially in COVID-19 era to provide a ton of things to students. Not only education, also extracurriculars. When we were still doing in-person, they provided before- and after-school activities. There’s the pressure of standardized testing. Reading and math tend to take a lion’s share of the time. And so things like social studies, civics, science, in some cases they, for some schools, got pushed out. So, some of the work that we’ve already published on this topic suggests that teachers are really working to integrate this type of material into their classes, but that they lack resources. They lack the time, they lack the support and they lack the actual materials, the curricula, the worksheets – the things that they need to teach it. So I think that it is definitely an area where there’s a lot of focus, and I think it’s an area where continued commitment and improvement in these offerings and better support to teachers in this area could potentially have significant benefits over the longer term in preparing students to navigate a really complex information ecosystem and political environment.
Worland: What do you think could be achieved as far as truth decay is concerned with news literacy and even what do you think some of its limitations are?
Kavanagh: One of the key things that I’ve learned in our research on media literacy and news literacy is that it’s narrow to think of it as just learning how to read the news. Instead, I think, the way that we’ve been thinking about it in our work here is that media literacy is really an outlook. It’s a way of thinking about information, consuming information, sharing information, creating information. And when we think about it that way, it becomes much broader. It also becomes much easier in some ways to integrate into curricula. You may not need to have a standalone media literacy class. Instead, it’s about a set of skills and one application of those skills is around news, but there are other applications as well. And what we really want is for people to have those skills and be able to apply them to lots of disciplines, including news. The ultimate goal is to change how people view information and their relationship with that information, whether it’s news information or some other type of information.
Worland: Well, taking all that into consideration, what kind of future do you see for the country and for our democracy?
Kavanagh: This is a surmountable problem. It’s not an easy problem to surmount. It’s not going to be easy to move past it, but I also think that it’s doable. I mean, I think over its history, the United States has shown its innovation, its ability to respond to significant challenges, to develop new institutions, new ways of doing things, to absorb new technologies, to develop new technologies. And so, I think that we have everything that we need to overcome this. The challenge, I think, is mounting and then scaling our response. Media literacy is a good example. We have lots of media literacy efforts, but we need to scale them and that’s a challenge. So how do we scale them so that they’re in every school and every adult has exposure to them?
That’s one challenge that I think is a piece of a response. And I think bridging some of the depolarized divides will be essential to having people better able to have the tough conversations. And disagreement isn’t the problem. The problem is the inability to have kind of that meaningful discussion, where we agree on a set of facts and we disagree on the solutions and we work together to find them. So I think there has to be a unified bottom-up response, at the same time as we have a top-down response – a set of political leaders, educators and leaders across sectors, corporations, scientists who are united and working together across disciplines – to tackle this problem and really kind of shift the narrative. It’s also something that’s going to take a while. It took us probably a couple of decades to get to this point in terms of the decay of facts.
So, I don’t think we should be surprised if it then takes us a significant amount of time to get out. But there’s something that each one of us can do, which is to simply prioritize facts and make sure that we’re paying attention to facts, and we’re guarding against our own biases in our own lives. And I think that’s one of the things that, coming back to news and media literacy, that’s what it gives you is that set of skills to in your own life, question, to be aware of how information is coming to you, to seek out multiple sources, to challenge things when they don’t make sense or they don’t add up. And if everybody did that, I think we’d be in a really different place. And I see a lot of hope because I think that this issue, over time, it’s becoming more of a priority. More people are talking about it. It’s not dying away, and we can’t solve something that we’re not focused on. So, I see that as a positive sign and I have a lot of hope.
Worland: Thanks for listening. We’ve been talking to Jennifer Kavanaugh of the RAND Corporation about truth decay. Next week’s episode will be a special live edition of the show. We hope you’ll join us on November 18th at 5:30 p.m. Eastern, to gain a better understanding of how misinformation and disinformation impacted the presidential election. I’ll moderate a discussion featuring Jane Lytvynenko of BuzzFeed News, Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, and Enrique Acevedo of 60 Minutes’ new show 60 in 6. For details on how to register, visit our website, newslit.org. And if you can’t join us, we’ll post a podcast episode of the conversation in the days following the event.
Is that a fact? is a production of the News Literacy Project, a non-partisan education nonprofit, helping educators, students and the general public become news literate so they can be active consumers of news and information, and equal and engaged participants in a democracy. Alan Miller is our founder and CEO. I’m your host, Darragh Worland. Our executive producer is Mike Webb. Our editor is Timothy Kramer and our theme music is by Eryn Busch. To learn more about the News Literacy Project, go to newslit.org.