Media and Misinformation

Media and Misinformation

How do you decide what to believe? Media, Misinformation, and the Protection of Democracy

The second annual event in the Dr. Florence Seldin “Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport” Speaker Series was held October 14. Our speakers discussed how misinformation is spread and what we as consumers of news can do to protect ourselves from it and ensure that we ourselves are not disseminating it. The importance of local news media in this process, and sustaining local media, was also discussed.


Dr. Joan Donovan, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media Studies at Boston University's College of Communications and Past Director of the Technology and Social Change Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Dan Kennedy, Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University, nationally known media commentator, and familiar face as a frequent past panelist on Beat The Press on WGBH TV.
See his website, focusing, with Ellen Clegg, on local new media.

The event was recorded by Falmouth Community TV and the recording is available on the LWVCCA YouTube Channel, which you can view by following this link:

The topic of  misinformation and disinformation is a very timely topic as the internet and social media has proliferated it exponentially. Many organizations are offering presentations on this topic including the GBH Forum Network, which featured Dr. Donovan and Dr. Lee McIntyre in a program called Beyond Belief.  AARP is featuring a webinar on Tips for Being News Savvy Online. The News Literacy Project features a website and many webinars dealing with this topic. Similarly, the topic of preserving local independent news that Dan Kennedy addressed is also gaining attention as an urgent problem and Mr. Kennedy provided several examples of local independent papers that were started in Massachusetts and New England.

In the question and answer period, a student asked, “What can a single individual do about the problem of misinformation?”  While pointing out that this problem is bigger than one person can solve and that it will take a whole of society approach to address this problem, Dr. Donovan did conclude that on a personal level, people can take responsibility for making sure that they are getting their news from trusted sources.  Our committee provided some tools in the program handout that we gave the audience participants that can help individuals be more mindful of the accuracy of the news sources they are using. Those resources are provided below.

  • is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the university of Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. Politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TVads, debates, speeches, interview and news releases.”
  •“The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”
  • PolitiFact at Pulitzer Prize winning website rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials. Run by editors and reporters from the independent newspaper Tampa Bay Times, it features the Truth-O-Meter that rates the accuracy of statements.
  • MediaBias/FactCheck at A bias rating resource with multiple fake news checking apps. It is a source to check the bias of one’s favorite news websites.
  • The News Literacy Project at Library of Congress awarded NLP their highest literacy award, the David M. Rubenstein award in recognition of the project’s “outstanding efforts to help people of all ages identify misinformation and stop its spread."
  • The Media Manipulation Casebook is a digital research platform linking together theory, methods, and practice for mapping media manipulation and disinformation campaigns. This resource is intended for researchers, journalists, technologists, policymakers, educators, and civil society organizers who want to learn about detecting, documenting, describing, and debunking misinformation, disinformation, and media manipulation.

NOTE: The Media Manipulation Casebook was a project of the Technology and Social Change Project, which was active from 2019-2023. The Casebook will remain at this URL as a publicly accessible resource, but is no longer being updated as of September 1, 2023. It can be found at