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The Age of Disinformation

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Magazines Canada is proud to present the “The Age of Disinformation,” a series of resources for members that identifies successful tools, strategies and international best practices to combat disinformation and misinformation, equipping the Canadian magazine industry to promote its trusted-ness to audiences and advertisers across the country.

We know that your digital ecosystem is populated with thousands of pieces of content each day, and it’s up to you as magazine editors, journalists and publishers to seek the truth of a statement, an image or a source and find evidence to back it up.

To that end, Magazines Canada engaged international experts to write Hotsheets, offering practical tools, tips and insight; present webinars and case studies with solid takeaways, analysis on algorithms and filter bubbles, and a lively panel discussion at Word On The Street Toronto in September 2019. The purpose is to provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to identify and debunk fake news, to verify information and written and visual content, and to give you practical strategies to combat disinformation.

Through The Age of Disinformation resource series, we aim to help build your critical thinking skills and preparedness against online disinformation and other online harms, to promote digital literacy, to help critically assess online information, understand how algorithms work and when they might impact a user’s experience, recognize how and when malicious actors exploit online platforms, and acquire skills to avoid being susceptible to online manipulation.

View these resources to learn more, and to gain these tools and skills.

Webinars

In September 2019, Magazines Canada hosted a one-hour webinar called How Do They Know That? Verifying Claims in the Age of Fake News, presented by Jim Handman, Executive Director of the Science Media Centre of Canada. Handman’s webinar focused on the importance of skepticism and critical thinking as a strategy to assess information online, and he provided tips and tools for publishers to navigate the online environment. Watch the video here:

In October 2019, Magazines Canada hosted a one-hour webinar called Sorting Truth From Fiction with Social Media Tools, presented by the team at Indiana University’s Observatory on Social Media, about their suite of tools that magazine professionals can use to monitor or track disinformation campaigns and detect fake accounts. Watch the video here:


Whitepaper

Magazines Canada commissioned a whitepaper to explore the disinformation threats confronting Canadian magazines and the opportunities to insulate the industry. The resulting whitepaper, You Cannot Afford to Ignore the Disinformation Crisis: A Call to Action for Canadian Magazines, discusses how disinformation is manifesting in Canada, responses to it and opportunities for magazines to respond creatively. The whitepaper offers six key recommendations for action including a focus on strengthening research and verification capabilities, improving trust in magazine brands and collaborating in the fight back. The lead author is award-winning Australian journalist Alice Matthews and secondary author is Dr. Julie Posetti, Global Director of Research for the International Center For Journalists (ICFJ) based in Oxford. Read the whitepaper here.

Case Studies

Looking to international best practices, Magazines Canada commissioned the case study Verificado and the 2018 Mexican Election on the collaborative fact-checking initiative that saw 90 newsrooms come together to fight viral fake news in the run up to Mexico’s 2018 elections. Verificado 2018 combatted disinformation with accurate, fact-checked, high-quality journalism. Written by Tom Trewinnard, the project lead for Verificado 2018, the case study provides lessons and insight from this project that could apply to or be used by magazine media publishers. Read the case study here.

The second case study that Magazines Canada commissioned was Faktisk: Norway’s Fact-Checking Cooperative on the fact-checking initiative, Faktisk.no from Norway. This website was launched as a collaborative effort between media rivals Dagbladet, one of Norway’s largest newspapers, VG and NRK, to fight fake news. Together, the media organizations joined together to fact-check disinformation and misinformation. Written by Faktisk editor Kristoffer Egeberg, the case study highlights the process of collaboration between rivals, the extensive and successful work Faktask did, the societal change the fact-checking work enabled, and offers insight and advice for those looking to emulate Faktisk’s model. Read the case study here.

Hotsheets

Verifying Visual Content for Magazine Media
By Fergus Bell, CEO of FATHM
Sharing false visuals is the last thing publishers want to share—it could harm their credibility and the trust their audience has in them. In this Hotsheet, international expert Fergus Bell explains how publishers can recognize, verify, assess and evaluate images, photos, videos, memes, graphs and charts for signs of misrepresentation or manipulation. Read the Hotsheet here.

Six Tips, Tricks and Tools for Verifying Information and Sources Online
By Daniel Funke, Staff Writer at PolitiFact
Sometimes, the best defence against disinformation is getting the facts right. In this Hotsheet, Politifact’s Daniel Funke offers tips and tools for magazine publishers to verify written information online, guiding readers through assessing the tips, sources and other information they receive daily. Read the Hotsheet here.

Algorithms, Filter Bubbles, and Fake News
By Dominik Grau, Managing Director, BeuthVerlag GmbH
Algorithms shape how we consume content and the way content or services are recommended to us. In this Hotsheet, international expert Dominic Grau explains the growing influence of algorithms and the digital filter bubbles that they create. Read the Hotsheet here.

Inoculating Your Audience Against Fake News
By Kaleigh Rogers
Disinformation has caused a disintegration in an already declining level of trust in journalism. In this Hotsheet, disinformation reporter Kaleigh Rogers explains how magazines can build bridges with their readers, empower readers’ news literacy, and guide publishers through enhancing their audience’s trust. Read the Hotsheet here.

Word On The Street Panel

Magazines Canada presented “Digital Magazines in the Age of Disinformation,” on September 22, 2019, at Word On The Street Toronto, with four leading digital magazine publishers who discussed their perspectives on news and entertainment in the age of disinformation. An all-star panel from across Canada included Rehana Begg, editor of Canadianmanufacturing.com at Annex Business Media; Drew Brown, editor of The Newfoundland and Labrador Independent; Camille Dundas, editor-in-chief of ByBlacks.com, Canada’s Black Canadian online magazine; and Andrew Yates, managing editor of news at HuffPost Canada. The discussion touched on how digital publishers navigate the demands of immediacy and responsibility, how they identify what’s authentic and what’s misinformation or disinformation, strategies they use to assess credibility of sources and content, among other talking points. The panel was moderated by leading fake news expert, Craig Silverman, media editor at Buzzfeed.

Digital Magazines in the Age of Disinformation at the Word on the Street Toronto

Code of Reader and Advertiser Engagement

The revised Code of Reader and Advertiser Engagement includes guidelines for digital magazines, the first of its kind in Canada. The Code serves as a tool for editors and advertising sales teams to achieve business activity goals while retaining reader confidence and commitment, much as it does for print publications. Read the updated Code here.