#journalism roundup: an “attempt to quantify the extent of Europe’s fake news problem…

We haven’t seen much data so far on exactly how bad the spread of fake news is across the European Union. But some new research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism might help.

In a report entitled “Measuring the reach of ‘fake news’ and online disinformation in Europe” released Wednesday evening, authors Richard Fletcher, Alessio Cornia, Lucas Graves, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen write that “with the partial exception of the United States (e.g. Allcott and Gentzkow 2017; Guess, Nyhan, and Reifler 2018; Nelson and Taneja 2018), we lack even the most basic information about the scale of the problem in almost every country.” (Nielsen is a member of the European Commission panel on fake news and online misinformation, and he’d previously called attention to the lack-of-EU-research issue in a number of tweets.)

The Financial Times’s 404 page is an ingenious, hilarious introduction to major concepts in economic theory


If you hit a dead link on the Financial Times’ website, you get a 404 page that offers a series of funny possible explanations for the page’s nonexistence, each corresponding to a different economic theory (like “monetarism,” the “efficient markets hypothesis” and “trickle-down”), and many are linked to articles from the FT’s archives that delve into the concept.

Patrick Soon-Shiong has finally won his hometown prize.

After a number of years of trying to buy his local paper, Los Angeles’ richest billionaire has seized an unpredictable opportunity. In a move that’s shocking but not really surprising, 65-year-old Soon-Shiong will pay a chunk of his estimated $7 billion-plus fortune to finally split with his erstwhile partner in Troncdom, chairman Michael Ferro. As I’ve reported over the last couple of years, his efforts to gain control of the Times, both public and behind the scenes, waxed and waned, but they never disappeared.

On January 19, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained how the company planned to decide which news sources it would prioritize in the (now with less news!) News Feed. “We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” he wrote.

This plan — in which users would be asked two questions: Whether they were familiar with a given news source, and how much they trusted it — was largely greeted with skepticism. “A reporter emailed me, like, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ and I started with a list of all the reasons that it seemed like a pretty terrible idea,” said David Rand, associate professor of psychology at Yale and the coauthor, with Gordon Pennycook, of much of the most-discussed research into fake news that’s been released in the past year or so. “Then I realized this is actually an empirical question. Why don’t we find out?”

Wired’s brand and mission may align it closely with the koan of the internet revolution that “information wants to be free,” but the days of unlimited free content at Wired.com are coming to an end.

Starting today, visitors to Wired.com will be able to read four articles a month, plus a snippet of a fifth article, before Wired asks them to subscribe. A yearly subscription will have an introductory rate of $20 (final pricing is TBD), and will include access to Wired’s website as well as its print and digital editions.

Flourish helps journalists create easy data visualizations

Data visualization brings more eyes, attention and understanding to complex stories. When it works well, it can make a story crystal-clear. But it takes effort, coding and time—and is sometimes out of reach for all but the biggest newsrooms.

One easy way to make data visualizations is through Flourish, a tool that helps you design and create graphics to embed on a website or export as a SVG file. We’re making Flourish free for journalists, so that it’ll be easier for newsrooms of all sizes and budgets to create their own data visualizations.

Fake news and distrust in the media may be on the rise, but content from news outlets —
particularly legacy ones — is still getting shared plenty on Twitter.

In an effort to determine what kinds of information sources people encounter on Twitter when reading about big policy issues, Pew Research analyzed 9.7 million immigration-focused tweets sent in the month following Donald Trump’s inauguration last year that linked to top news sources. Pew’s findings, which were published on Monday, suggest that news outlets — not commentary blogs, advocacy organizations, government sites, or fake news sites — are winning out when it comes to what’s most often shared when people talk about policy on Twitter.

Another survey, another set of a sobering findings about how little Americans trust the current news ecosystem to keep them properly informed.

According to “American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy,” a new report from Gallup and the Knight Foundation, while Americans have access to more news sources than ever, they say that expansion has made it harder, not easier, to stay informed. And while people continue to give low marks to traditional news media sources when it comes to objectivity and trust, they’re also souring on the big tech platforms too.

Here are a few notable findings:

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