Upon Reflection alan miller

Upon Reflection: How to spot and avoid spreading fake news

Updates

Alan Miller

Alan C. Miller

Founder and CEO


Cartoonist Walt Kelly coined the phrase "we have met the enemy and he is us" for an anti-pollution Earth Day poster in 1970 and used it again in an Earth Day cartoon in 1971. In the accompanying illustration, we’ve taken the liberty to apply it to today’s online pollution.

Cartoonist Walt Kelly coined the phrase “we have met the enemy and he is us” for an anti-pollution Earth Day poster in 1970 and used it again in an Earth Day cartoon in 1971. In the accompanying illustration, we’ve taken the liberty to apply it to today’s online pollution.

Note: This is the first in a periodic series of personal reflections on journalism, news literacy, education and related topics by  NLP’s founder and CEO Alan C. Miller. Columns will be posted here at 10 a.m. ET every other Thursday. This initial piece was published in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 28:

It’s time that we recognize one of the great challenges confronting our democracy: We are at an inflection point where facts may no longer continue to matter.

The notion of “alternative facts” is no longer so far-fetched. Emotions and opinions threaten to supplant evidence, and conspiracy theories and viral rumors can overwhelm reason. This is especially pernicious on social media — today’s no-holds-barred public square.

The corrosive threat of misinformation permeates every aspect of our civic life. It undercuts our ability to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. It undermines trust in the news media and in our democratic institutions — and, in particular, the right of citizens to cast their ballots.

Indeed, with Election Day on Nov. 3 fast approaching, we’re being deluged with news reports, opinion columns and commentary, social media posts, images, videos and other communications about candidates, campaigns and the act of voting itself. But we don’t need to wait for the ballots to be counted to make one call: Much of what we’re reading, watching and hearing is not intended to inform us, or even persuade us. Instead, it’s created to misinform us, inflame us and divide us.

For the entire piece, please see Commentary: How to spot and avoid spreading fake news.

More Updates

News literacy ambassadors

NLP launches News Literacy Ambassador Program

If 2020 has made anything clear, it’s that the future of our democracy depends on our collective ability to sort fact from fiction — and teaching students news literacy skills is crucial to this. To build our local footprint through community organizing efforts in the fight against misinformation, we have launched a News Literacy Ambassador…

Updates

Annual report: NLP meets challenges, expands mission

By Greg McCaffery and Alan C. Miller Our world has been shaken and transformed since we shared our first annual report with you. In fact, it often feels like last fall was a decade ago. Read the report here. We’re proud to say that NLP has responded to the myriad challenges wrought by COVID-19 with…

Updates

From the Sift®: Understanding misinformation in the wake of the election

Misinformation and conspiracy theories thrive when curiosity and controversy are widespread and conclusive information is scarce or unavailable. The deeply polarized 2020 presidential election not only produced these conditions, it sustained them as ballots in a number of swing states with narrow vote margins were adjudicated and carefully counted. To be sure, viral rumors swirled…

Updates