Special Issue "Beyond Fake News and Fact-Checking: The Political, Social and Technological Consequences of the Battle Against Misinformation and Disinformation"

A special issue of Journalism and Media (ISSN 2673-5172).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (17 December 2021) | Viewed by 11955

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. José Rúas Araujo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Audiovisual Communications and Advertising, Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication, University of Vigo, Vigo, 36005 Pontevedra, Spain
Interests: political communication; government communication
Dr. John P. Wihbey
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Journalism, College of Arts, Media and Design, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Interests: the intersection of news and social media; misinformation and media literacy; the use of data and data visualization in journalism and communications; issues of policy relating to news and social media platforms
Dr. Daniel Barredo-Ibáñez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Human Sciences, Universidad del Rosario, 111821 Bogotá, Colombia
Interests: journalism; online journalism
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Disinformation is not only damaging to people's individual lives, health and finances but to democracy as a whole. The crisis that originated from the COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled the debate on the public need to protect ourselves against the spread of unfounded rumours and false news. Against a backdrop of tension and collective fear, these factors can seriously erode our social stability, peaceful coexistence and the foundations on which Western democracies are built.

In this sense, the task of fact-checking journalism stands as the cornerstone for social accountability. It is a defining feature of the nature of a society’s trust in governments and institutions, as well as citizens’ rights.

The number of people who mistake false news for that which is veracious during election time is on the rise. Also becoming more prevalent are the social and governmental concerns regarding fake news and its harmful effects on public opinion, as well as on institutional trust and the quality of democracy, as external interference and intoxication impinge upon the electoral processes of various countries.

Disinformation, rumours and fake news have become commonplace in digital media, making it very difficult to disseminate compensatory information at a similar rate. This is yet another consequence of the growing popularisation of computation, automation and algorithmic segmentation. These phenomena influence the production and life cycle of news, within the so-called attention economy, compromising citizen’s ability to form free and informed opinions.

This economic competition for attention is added to the already existing pressure on production rates in the newsrooms, as journalists are expected to meet urgent deadlines, publish alerts and make hurried updates. This makes comparisons and fact-checking an extremely difficult task.

Themes to be addressed in this Special Issue of Journalism and Media:

  1. Digital communication and processes
  2. Communication, politics and technology. The other pandemic: disinformation and misinformation in the age of coronavirus.
  3. Fact-checking experiences in Europe and Latin America at the service of journalism: a comparative perspective
  4. Persuasion and emotion: language and content analysis, and artificial intelligence
  5. Freedom of speech, ethics and transparency in digital society
  6. Digital social media
  7. Software, big data, data mining and intelligent systems. Automation, bots and algorithms.
  8. Miscellaneous (journalism, communication, advertising and public relations, political science and other aspects of social and human sciences derived from information and communication technologies).

Prof. Dr. José Rúas Araujo
Dr. John P. Wihbey
Dr. Daniel Barredo-Ibáñez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journalism and Media is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • fake-news
  • fact-checking
  • political communication
  • social media
  • journalism

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Beyond Fake News and Fact-Checking: A Special Issue to Understand the Political, Social and Technological Consequences of the Battle against Misinformation and Disinformation
Journal. Media. 2022, 3(2), 254-256; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3020019 - 30 Mar 2022
Viewed by 759
Abstract
Disinformation, hoaxes and false news are part of our daily lives and have numerous antecedents throughout history, and there have been many authors who have described the parallel between communication theories and propaganda theories (Barredo Ibáñez 2021) [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Exploring Populism in Times of Crisis: An Analysis of Disinformation in the European Context during the US Elections
Journal. Media. 2022, 3(1), 144-156; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3010012 - 15 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 871
Abstract
Electoral contests around the world are suffering from an increasing distrust triggered by the dissemination of conspiracy theories. Extant research on political communication has largely studied this phenomenon, but, in some cases, it has neglected the relationship between social and legacy media in [...] Read more.
Electoral contests around the world are suffering from an increasing distrust triggered by the dissemination of conspiracy theories. Extant research on political communication has largely studied this phenomenon, but, in some cases, it has neglected the relationship between social and legacy media in the breakthrough of a radicalized populism. Based on a wide literature review of liberal democracy and the roots of populism, this study addresses the right-wing populist communicative actions as one of the causes of the fragmentation of the democratic system, defining a journalistic and fact-checking standard to promote a well-informed society. Specifically, our research focus is to illustrate the impact of populist rhetoric on the traditional media system through a multiple-case study applied in European countries affected by right-wing populist discourse following the last United States elections (2020). The results show a connection among the strategies (game frames) used on Twitter, being less clear in the number of retweets and the presence on the front pages of newspapers. These data serve as a guide to build a journalistic indicator, arguing that high-quality information could be the key for democratic systems to minimize populist rhetoric and tackle the disinformation that endangers their future. Full article
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Article
The Normative World of Memes: Political Communication Strategies in the United States and Ecuador
Journal. Media. 2022, 3(1), 40-51; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3010004 - 06 Jan 2022
Viewed by 964
Abstract
The media convergence model presents an environment in which everyone produces information without intermediates or filters. A subsequent insight shows that users (prosumers) —gathered in networked communities—also shape messages’ flow. Social media play a substantial role. This information is loaded with public values [...] Read more.
The media convergence model presents an environment in which everyone produces information without intermediates or filters. A subsequent insight shows that users (prosumers) —gathered in networked communities—also shape messages’ flow. Social media play a substantial role. This information is loaded with public values and ideologies that shape a normative world: social media has become a fundamental platform where users interact and promote public values. Memetics facilitates this phenomenon. Memes have three main characteristics: (1) Diffuse at the micro-level but shape the macrostructure of society; (2) Are based on popular culture; (3) Travel through competition and selection. In this context, this paper examineshow citizens from Ecuador and the United States reappropriate memes during a public discussion? The investigation is based on multimodal analysis and compares the most popular memes among the United States and Ecuador produced during the candidate debate (Trump vs. Biden [2020] and Lasso vs. Arauz [2021]). The findings suggest that, during a public discussion, it is common to use humor based on popular culture to question authority. Furthermore, a message becomes a meme when it evidences the gap between reality and expectations (normativity). Normativity depends on the context: Americans complain about the expectations of a debate; Ecuadorians, about discourtesy and violence. Full article
Article
Verification Systems and Programs in Regional Television Stations That Are Members of the CIRCOM Network
Journal. Media. 2022, 3(1), 1-12; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3010001 - 22 Dec 2021
Viewed by 956
Abstract
Disinformation and the proliferation of fake news are global problems that affect the stability of democracies throughout the world. The capacity of distorted information to interfere in election processes or in political agendas has led different actors to create verification initiatives, which operate [...] Read more.
Disinformation and the proliferation of fake news are global problems that affect the stability of democracies throughout the world. The capacity of distorted information to interfere in election processes or in political agendas has led different actors to create verification initiatives, which operate in partnership with the mass media. Recently, during the 2020 health crisis, false information has proved to have damaging power not only at the levels of politics or communication, but also at a health level. Therefore, the social need to access reliable and quality information, as well as verified information aimed at eradicating hoaxes, becomes evident. This paper focuses on the European context, analyzing the relationship between active verifiers and television stations that are members of the CIRCOM Network, considering their strategies and verification programs. Using a qualitative methodology an exploratory study has been carried out, mapping initiatives and stations by assessing their contribution of verified information to society. Full article
Article
Types of Gameplay in Newsgames. Case of Persuasive Messages about COVID-19
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(4), 746-757; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040044 - 24 Nov 2021
Viewed by 862
Abstract
Currently, independent video games have been presented as an alternative to approach the development of a ludic typology called newsgames in which, distancing themselves from the interests of the entertainment industry, a series of games related to the pandemic are presented. From here, [...] Read more.
Currently, independent video games have been presented as an alternative to approach the development of a ludic typology called newsgames in which, distancing themselves from the interests of the entertainment industry, a series of games related to the pandemic are presented. From here, we seek to examine the gameplay elements and persuasive messages of 17 “indie games” in the context of COVID-19, categorizing them according to types of newsgames and determining any patterns present among them. The results manifest a tendency towards tabloid newsgames, which are characterized by dealing with sensational, direct, and immediate information using humor and exaggeration to convey messages, which, in this case, focuses on biosafety measures such as hand washing, the use of alcohol for sanitation, and social distancing. On the part of the gameplay elements, a linear narrative is maintained, but it is mainly a sum of achievements to reach the game’s objectives. In short, independent newsgames are formalized as an instrument of diversification in media realities that allow for the presenting of information in an alternative way without depending on editorial lines within a crisis context, as has been the case during the pandemic. Full article
Article
How Are Women Politicians Treated in the Press? The Case of Spain, France and the United Kingdom
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(4), 732-745; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040043 - 23 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1053
Abstract
Women politicians have been discriminated against or negatively valued under stereotypes in media coverage and have been given a secondary role compared to male politicians. The article proposes an analysis of the treatment given by digital media to women political leaders. They are [...] Read more.
Women politicians have been discriminated against or negatively valued under stereotypes in media coverage and have been given a secondary role compared to male politicians. The article proposes an analysis of the treatment given by digital media to women political leaders. They are from different parties in three countries and the aim is to identify the polarity (positive, neutral or negative) of the information published about them in the media. The text focuses on the cases of Anne Hidalgo and Marine Le Pen, from France, Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May, from the United Kingdom and Ada Colau and Inés Arrimadas, from Spain. The study develops a computerised sentiment analysis of the information published in two leading digital newspapers in each country, during the month of November 2019. The research, with the analysis of 1100 journalistic pieces, shows that the polarity or valence of the women analysed is predominantly neutral and positive and that the journalistic genres do not determine the media representation of the women studied. On the contrary, the country of study does have a predominant incidence on the way in which women politicians are represented, while the relationship of affinity or antipathy of the Spanish media with the women politicians studied is significant. Full article
Article
Killing the Comments: Why Do News Organizations Remove User Commentary Functions?
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(4), 572-583; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040034 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 870
Abstract
User commentary in digital journalism is commonly understood as a form of public user engagement and participation, a stance that reframes news organizations’ role as discussion curators as necessarily consequential. Yet, in recent years many news organizations have limited, or abandoned altogether, their [...] Read more.
User commentary in digital journalism is commonly understood as a form of public user engagement and participation, a stance that reframes news organizations’ role as discussion curators as necessarily consequential. Yet, in recent years many news organizations have limited, or abandoned altogether, their commentary functions. This paper examines statements and policies published by such news organizations. Based on a thematic analysis of 20 comment removal statements, we found that the most common rationale for this shift was an effort to reduce incivility and misinformation among user comments. The statements analyzed also indicate that organizations are moving to outsource commentary to social media platforms. Tapping into normative discourses of (avoiding) uncivil, conspiracy-prone commentary seems to be an acceptable rationale for abandoning infrastructures established for public discussions or to move these to social media; yet, we found no reflection whatsoever about the additional power afforded to social media companies through such a shift. Full article
Article
Deon and Telos: How Journalisms Are Evolving Their Ethical Approaches
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(3), 484-498; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2030029 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1887
Abstract
Survey evidence shows a deontological ethical ideology remains dominant in global journalism, underpinned by a cultural value of detachment. This article opens by considering the strain imposed on these precepts in US corporate media while covering the Trump White House—ultimately to breaking point [...] Read more.
Survey evidence shows a deontological ethical ideology remains dominant in global journalism, underpinned by a cultural value of detachment. This article opens by considering the strain imposed on these precepts in US corporate media while covering the Trump White House—ultimately to breaking point with the defeated president’s campaign to overturn the result, attempting to co-opt news organisations in the process. Feedback loops of cause and effect have, in any case, been exposed in today’s extended media, making the involvement of journalism in stories—through influence on audience responses and source behaviours—impossible to overlook. At the same time, new journalisms are emerging and growing, which adhere instead to a teleological ethical ideology. They openly identify themselves with external goals, and appeal for funds from donors and supporters on that basis. The article then goes on to present original data from analysing statements of aims and purpose put out by 12 news organisations working in four of these new fields: Peace Journalism; Solutions Journalism; Engaged, or Participatory Journalism; and Investigative Journalism, respectively. These represent a growing edge in journalism, it is argued, since they are positioned to respond positively to the changed conditions brought about by political and technological forces, which were illustrated by the Trump crisis. The study points to the changes in institutional arrangements now needed, if the structural foundations for their survival and success are to be strengthened. Full article
Article
Characteristics of Fake News and Misinformation in Greece: The Rise of New Crowdsourcing-Based Journalistic Fact-Checking Models
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(3), 417-439; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2030025 - 13 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1642
Abstract
Fake news and misinformation are a menace to the public sphere, democracy, and society with sometimes irreversible consequences. Journalists in the new era seem not to be able or willing to play their traditional role of gatekeeper and social media have made the [...] Read more.
Fake news and misinformation are a menace to the public sphere, democracy, and society with sometimes irreversible consequences. Journalists in the new era seem not to be able or willing to play their traditional role of gatekeeper and social media have made the problem even more intense. The need for truth is unnegotiable in modern democracies. Nevertheless, non-true stories and misinformation dominate media outlets with severe consequences and negative impacts on societies all over the world. Fact-checking platforms based on crowdsourcing strategies or automated digital websites might be the answer to a problem that is escalating. Initially, in order to tackle such a severe problem, researchers and experts have to monitor its characteristics. Very few research attempts have been conducted in Greece on fake news, its characteristics, origin, and impact. This dissertation scopes to map the characteristics of fake news and misinformation in an EU country such as Greece, based on the findings of “Ellinika Hoaxes” a fact-checking platform that uses in combination professional fact-checkers and crowdsourcing strategies in collaboration with Facebook. The findings shape new perspectives on the nature of misinformation and fake news in Greece and focus on new communication and fact-checking models. Full article
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