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How to Spot Junk News

Test Your News Sense

Research & Learning Librarian

Jean Longo's picture
Jean Longo

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What is Junk News?

What Is Junk News?

We define “junk news” to be fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent. Junk/Fake-news outlets, in turn, lack the news media's editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information. Junk/Fake news overlaps with other information disorders, such as misinformation (false or misleading information) and dis-information (false information that is purposely spread to deceive people). (Lazer et al. 2018)

It Is Nothing New

Before the printing press was invented people spread the news by word of mouth and as the stories were retold there certainly were false stories.  Stories were written on stone, clay, and papyrus prior to the printing press.  Writing has been used to assert power, discredit or even boast about one's success.  Even Edgar Allan Poe is said to have written a hoax newspaper article reporting that a balloonist crossed the Atlantic in three days.  In the mass media era stories can travel globally.  The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles is a fantastic example of how a radio play can cause panic. (Burkhardt, 2017)

Here Are Some Examples




Pink cow    

pyramid tunelsMilk thistle