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Category: Pseudo News

Journalism: The first “message” received is the one remembered, even if later proven as false.

Journalism: The first “message” received is the one remembered, even if later proven as false.

Reports of a polar bear spray painted with “T-34” on its side were greatly exaggerated. The tagging was done by scientists, not pranksters. The bear had been rummaging a garbage dump and scientists wanted to see if it was returning. They tagged it with a short duration ink; this was not graffiti by pranksters as initially reported. Typical of this type of report, the original source for the video was unknown, the back story was unknown, and the video was shared on social media by an environmental activist. Media then used social media as a primary source. What could possibly go wrong?

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

In 2016, Newsweek recalled 125,000 copies of this cover, which had been distributed nationwide. You can find copies today on Amazon or EBay. Newsweek blamed a subcontractor saying they had printed two separate editions in order to be prepared but their vendor shipped the wrong one. Newsweek has a history of publishing creative pre-written news stories rather than reporting on events after they have occurred.

Journalism: Newsweek reporter admits making up story, but keeps her job

Journalism: Newsweek reporter admits making up story, but keeps her job

Newsweek reporter caught having manufactured a fictional news report, then calls it an “honest mistake” and keeps her job. Newsweek has a history of publishing fiction stories masquerading as actual news. This is not how to inspire confidence in the news media. (Update: Newsweek confirmed the report about what Trump did on Thanksgiving was written during the week prior to Thanksgiving. The reporter has been fired and the editor has been demoted.)

Journalism: Activist launching propaganda news service to deliver fake local news, share-able on social media

Journalism: Activist launching propaganda news service to deliver fake local news, share-able on social media

A Democratic party activist is launching a well funded fake local news operation, modeled to a degree, on the Russian Internet Research Agency, to deliver biased or news stories to targeted individuals on Facebook and other social media. The operation will collect data directly from Facebook on who is reading their fake news, and will data mine that to target more people. Do you feel like you are being manipulated yet?

Journalism: How to turn Thanksgiving into an opportunity for political discussions

Journalism: How to turn Thanksgiving into an opportunity for political discussions

I never knew – according to journalists we are expected to argue about inequality and victimization at the Thanksgiving holiday. Journalists have even prepared a handy guide detailing how to support the journalists’ own agenda! Who knew (besides journalists) that we are supposed to turn Thanksgiving into an opportunity for propaganda messaging?

Updated: Apparently this entire genre is a coordinated pseudo-news event intended to be shared on social media and get around Facebook’s algorithms that try to limit some news article distribution. It’s based on the pseudo-news event approach of creating a fake “us versus them” narrative. It is, in fact, 21st century click-bait and nothing more.

Journalism: Basically, every fact in the story was wrong

Journalism: Basically, every fact in the story was wrong

Other than most facts in the story were wrong, it was a fine news report. Not.

Both the AFP and Reuters have withdrawn/retracted the story claiming 100,000 children were in immigration detention due to Trump Administration policies because the data, which didn’t mean what they thought it meant, was from 2015, during a different president’s administration.

Journalism/social media: ‘No One Believes Anything’

Journalism/social media: ‘No One Believes Anything’

Recognizing the widespread use of misinformation many are now ignoring the news because it is difficult – likely impossible – to discern facts from opinion and truth from noise. When no one believes anything – or what they believe is erroneous and based on widespread misinformation – then developing effective and efficient public policies is impossible.

Climate communications: Time Magazine changes headline three times, uses false headline “How Asthma Inhalers are Choking the Planet”

Climate communications: Time Magazine changes headline three times, uses false headline “How Asthma Inhalers are Choking the Planet”

Time Magazine engaged in deliberate, and false, propaganda messaging to influence readers to take action. After contacting the magazine, they did, at least, revise the headline (for the 3rd time). They began with the accurate headline “How Asthma Inhalers are Contributing to Climate Change” but immediately changed it and promoted this rude and 100% false headline: “How Asthma Inhalers are Choking the Planet”.

First, making crude humor of asthmatics “choking” is not funny and is rude and insensitive. Second, it is physically impossible for inhalers to be “choking the planet”. In homes where someone uses an inhaler, annual inhaler usage produces about 1% of the total CO2-equivalent gases emitted by the home and life activities during the course of a year. If all inhalers were eliminated tomorrow, there would be no measurable impact on weather or climate over the next 100 years. A worst case inhaler, using data cited by Time and BMJ, produces about half the CO2-equivalent GHC as does a person breathing and exhaling CO2. Seriously. Just breathing is a bigger threat than using inhalers.

Time eventually changed the headline to the better, but still misleading “How One Commonly Used Asthma Inhaler is Damaging the Planet”. Their fiction story also referenced the wrong gas used as a propellant, cited an exaggerated greenhouse gas effect multiplier from an environmental activist group rather than the more modest IPCC AR5 science-based estimate, and then omitted many article changes from their Corrections List. The text itself continues to climate shame asthmatics with the false “Choking the Planet” claim.

This is an example of garbage journalism and how not to do do climate communications.

Journalism: “1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans” is misleading

Journalism: “1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans” is misleading

The claim that “1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans” is a misleading headline from CBS News. The actual number is less than 1 in 20 Americans defaulted – and this was narrowly during the period of The Great Recession, the worst economic collapse since The Great Depression. They have worded the headline to use the method of “anchoring” – when we see this, we immediately think “1 in 4 Americans” have defaulted, which is not true. This appears to be propaganda in support of wiping out student debts.