Perhaps the most distasteful national omelet we’ve been served during the past four years has been the one that has mixed together an unsavory combination of three ingredients: fake news, misinformation, and disinformation.
While many express growing concerns and look for ways to deal with them, that may be difficult – if not impossible – as long as we use these terms without any agreed-upon definitions that set useful boundaries and are easy to understand among the public at large. The alternative is to continue repeating the mantra “fake news-misinformation- disinformation” so often that it loses meaning, or using the terms interchangeably so that they become permanently blurred in our minds.
Continue reading “Guardrails for Describing Fake News, Misinformation, and Disinformation”
With COVID-19 and economic recovery at the top of the policy agenda for the Biden Administration and the new Congress, it may take awhile until serious attention is devoted to enacting national digital privacy legislation. This continues to put states in a leadership position to craft their own approaches. Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Washington are among the states that are in the process of developing their own bills for timely legislative approval.
And Virginia’s pending Consumer Data Protection Act is poised to be signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, after receiving very strong bipartisan support in both the Virginia House and the state Senate.
Continue reading “Digital Privacy Laws Should Reflect Our Work-From-Home Pandemic Lives”
The resumption of daily press briefings by the new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has brought back a welcomed routine of making the president’s chief spokesperson available for informational updates and responses to questions posed by various reporters in the press corps. Ms. Psaki typically holds these weekday sessions in the early afternoon and they can be viewed on a variety of websites.
With that scheduling constant now in place, it’s time for the Biden Administration to devise a separate social media schedule for COVID-19 updates to help minimize the tsunami of misinformation about testing, PPE availability, mandated mask orders, vaccine supply, and actual vaccinations. These updates should be based on actual data and science, not on rumors or speculation. And when sufficient information is not yet forthcoming, we should be told why it has not been released and when it may be made public.
Continue reading “Greater Social Media Trust Is Needed To Fight COVID-19”
With a start of a new year, some notable public attitudes about critical institutions seem to be on a downward trend. These include traditional media, like newspapers, broadcast stations, and cable networks, which are often thrown together in opinion polls aimed at gaining key insight into their credibility with audiences of readers and viewers.
The Edelman Trust Barometer found only 46 percent of Americans trust traditional media. This is the lowest number recorded since the data was first tracked two decades ago. It found 58 percent of Americans believe that “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting one ideology or political position than with informing the public” and found over half also think that the Fourth Estate is “trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”
Continue reading “Why Distrust of News Needs More Sophisticated Analysis”
In a single swipe, Twitter and Facebook have done what the U.S. government and the Constitution could not: delete the power of an irreverent president to rile and rally Americans to violent action.
Twitter announced Jan. 8 that it permanently suspended Trump’s account, while Facebook announced Jan. 7 it had suspended Trump’s account indefinitely.
Continue reading “Big Tech Must Self-Regulate To Protect Public Safety”
As 2021 begins, one source of optimism from Congress was the recent enactment of much-needed legislation to expand broadband network availability into rural and tribal areas.
The new emergency stimulus funding includes $300 million to be made available as Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants to target unserved areas for network infrastructure construction that prioritizes funds for counties, cities, or towns with less than 50,000 inhabitants.
Continue reading “A Better Way To Close the Digital Divide”
One can scarcely remember the time, only a few short decades ago, when life moved along without the array of personal digital devices that have come to define today’s culture. All of that changed, of course, with the advent of the Internet and the ability to access a burgeoning number of websites (which themselves were rapidly evolving).
Personal desktop computers, portable laptops, tablets, cell phones, and “smart phones” would fuel the tech revolution. Who could imagine that someday one’s phone, tablet, and computers would all be synchronized into a seamless whole. Or that millions of Americans would spend vast amounts of time engaging each other via something called “social media.”
Continue reading “The Role of Targeted Advertising In Supporting First Amendment Principles”
In the 40 years since The Media Institute began, it’s difficult to recall a national environment quite like the one we’re in today.
Basic principles of free speech are being challenged in multiple ways and by multiple forces: foreign governments distorting the “truth” through social media, and varying outlets promoting wildly disparate views of the “news.” Divisiveness and contention are at an all-time high in our politics and our national discourse.
Continue reading “First Amendment Values and a Voice for Everyone”
Two hundred and thirty-one years ago this week, Congress passed a collection of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 10 of which would become the Bill of Rights. Foremost in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment, which allows Americans to worship how they please, speak their minds openly, and have their voices heard by their government.
Our Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, also included in the First Amendment the right to a free press. They understood that our democracy could not survive without the freedom to report the news without fear or favor. The times may have changed; that principle has not.
Continue reading “First Amendment Still Shines During Toughest of Times”
From shifting commercial placements to premature newspaper endorsements, this year’s early balloting procedures are having a massive effect on media operations. Political strategists are figuring out how and more importantly when to place ads in this unprecedented season of extensive early voting.
The Halloween weekend deluge of campaign ads just before Election Day on Nov. 3 may be meaningless if up to half of voters have already cast their ballots. In a related vein, the ripple effect of advertising decisions also affects ad timing for down-ballot races, where voters may need more coaxing.
Continue reading “Early Voting Brings New Media Challenges In Advertising and Editorial Endorsements”