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Is Social Media a Threat to Democracy?

October 10, 2017

The advent of social media introduced transformative platforms for people to share thoughts and information in entertaining and connective ways. But the benefits are increasingly being overshadowed by negative consequences as the monetization—and manipulation—of information threatens to tear us apart.In this paper, we examine six key issues and implications presented by social media participation and manipulation, and we cite examples of what we and others are doing—or could do—to possibly mitigate their negative impact.

The Fact-Checking Universe in Spring 2012: An Overview

February 1, 2012

By almost any measure, the 2012 presidential race is shaping up to be the most fact-checked electoral contest in American history. Every new debate and campaign ad yields a blizzard of fact-checking from the new full-time fact-checkers, from traditional news outlets in print and broadcast, and from partisan political organizations of various stripes. And though fact-checking still peaks before elections it is now a year-round enterprise that challenges political claims beyond the campaign trail.This increasingly crowded and contentious landscape raises at least two fundamental questions. First, who counts as a legitimate fact-checker? The various kinds of fact-checking at work both inside and outside of journalism must be considered in light of their methods, their audiences, and their goals. And second, how effective are fact-checkers -- or how effective could they be -- in countering widespread misinformation in American political life? The success of the fact-checkers must be assessed in three related areas: changing people's minds, changing journalism, and changing the political conversation. Can fact-checking really stop a lie in its tracks? Can public figures be shamed into being more honest? Or has the damage been done by the time the fact-checkers intervene?This report reviews the shape of the fact-checking landscape today. It pays special attention to the divide between partisan and nonpartisan fact-checkers, and between fact-checking and conventional reporting. It then examines what we know and what we don't about the effectiveness of fact-checking, using the media footprint of various kinds of fact-checkers as an initial indicator of the influence these groups wield. Media analysis shows how political orientation limits fact-checkers' impact in public discourse.

Mapping Digital Media: United States

November 23, 2011

Examines trends in media consumption; the impact of digital media on public broadcasters, activism, and journalism; and the state of digital technology, ownership, funding, business models, and policies and regulations. Makes policy recommendations.

Shaping 21st Century Journalism: Leveraging a "Teaching Hospital Model" in Journalism Education

October 28, 2011

Calls on journalism programs to become "anchor institutions" in the digitally networked age by pursuing a broader, community-oriented mission, testing new journalism models, exploring how journalistic ecosystems evolve, and shaping policymaking processes.