How to Fight Fake News and Misinformation

In the months since the fake news epidemic garnered national attention, much of the news coverage has been on how Facebook and other media/tech companies can change their algorithms or encourage crowdsourcing to help stop the spread of bogus information. That’s certainly a major component of combating fake news, defined here as wholly false news stories — not to be confused with misinformation (intentionally false information); spin, propaganda, distorted information, etc.

But there are other ways to stand up for actual reporting in the face of falsehoods. And that’s the topic of a two-part series I wrote for MediaShift.

Part one looks at how foundations are supporting a range of initiatives to push back against fake news and misinformation: public-interest journalism, fact-checking, news literacy education, media innovation, and research on civic engagement and trust in the press.


Several takeaways from the article:

  1. Fake news is not the preferred term.
  2. Fake news is not new, but the 2016 election was a wake-up call.
  3. Fake news is only part of the problem.
  4. There’s no silver bullet, but there are plenty of worthy causes.
  5. Measuring impact may prove difficult.

Part two examines what comes next for journalism and journalism educators after a campaign that was filled with plenty of falsehoods. The piece looks at recent research on fact-checking, news literacy education and more, and asks those involved in the projects what they have learned and what may come next.


These six quotes help tell the story:

“Fake news isn’t like a leaky pipe where you tighten it with a proper seal and then it’s fixed for 20 years. Fake news and the problem it represents are more like crime and you are a police force. You can police it better or worse, but you are fighting it perpetually. You need better techniques and better technology to do it.”

Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute

“I think the notion of a post-fact or post-truth world is a gross misunderstanding of what happened. The point of fact-checking is not to determine who lied less but to inform voters of whether or not and where political actors are stretching the truth.

— Rosenstiel

“The election has foregrounded this question of a lack of trust. The lack of a newsroom-community connection, i.e. a lack of trust in news, has to be rebuilt.”

— Tom Glaisyer, chair of the Democracy Fund’s public square program

“The atomic unit of news in the past was the ‘news story,’ the lovely narrative, beautifully written… The new atomic unit of news must actually be the reporting — what the story learned — and the proof that establishes it. News people must now adopt forms, templates, and structures that make that proof — the evidence — become more explicit.”

— Rosenstiel

“A constellation of approaches to teaching news literacy are needed to reach different types of young people in different locations and with different identities.”

— Abby Kiesa, director of impact at CIRCLE

“You have to build a strong public will to take responsibility for consuming credible news. You’re never going to be able to control the flow of information.”

— Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation