Good reads about journalism, tech and media

Big Tech’s Next Challenge: Powerful State Media Networks

By Nithin Coca

31 October 2019

Facebook, Google and Twitter face pressure to regulate state-funded media ops seeking to game the Internet. But which ones, and how? More

Disinfo Wars

By Hossein Derakhshan

6 August 2019

In the Information Disorder report for Council of Europe (2017), Claire Wardle and I identified three types of bad-information (mis-, dis-, and malinformation), three phases (creation, (re)production, distribution), and three elements (agent, message, interpreter) to information disorder.

Here I would like to expand that model and focus on various categories of information warfare, based on their agents and targets, divided as state, non-state or non-state organisations, and the public. More

A Journalist’s Efforts to Dismantle the Soviet Union’s Legacy of Media Censorship

By Contrast

10 June 2019

Lithuania isn’t known for having a strong independent media tradition, but a group of journalists — who are ready to take risks — are changing that. More

The Website That Shows How a Free Press Can Die

By Patrick Kingsley and Benjamin Novak

24 November 2018

Hungary’s leading news website, Origo, had a juicy scoop: A top aide to the far-right prime minister, Viktor Orban, had used state money to pay for sizable but unexplained expenses during secret foreign trips. The story embarrassed Mr. Orban and was a reminder that his country still had an independent press.

But that was in 2014. Today, Origo is one of the prime minister’s most dutiful media boosters, parroting his attacks on migrants and on George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist demonized by the far right on both sides of the Atlantic. More

How The Media Helped Legitimize Extremism

By Miranda Katz

24 September 2018

Whitney Phillips’ “The Oxygen of Amplification” draws on in-depth conversations with dozens of journalists to illustrate an uncomfortable truth: The media inadvertently helped catalyze the rapid rise of the alt-right, turning it into a story before it was necessarily newsworthy. More

Fake News, Rumour and Censorship in the Middle Kingdom

By Mossy Wittenberg

27 June 2018

A few months ago, an executive at a popular Chinese social media platform told me confidently that “there’s no fake news in China”. I wasn’t fully sure what he meant. At face value, the assertion is plain wrong: the presence of misinformation and rumour (propaganda aside) across all media channels in mainland China, from traditional state-backed outlets to digital platforms, is well documented. Search giant Baidu claims to investigate three billion reports of fake news every year. A report from The School of Communication and Design at Sun Yat-sen University, written with WeChat’s security team, analyses 2,175 fake news stories spread on the platform in 2015–16; while executives at Tencent, at Sina Corp (owners of microblogging site Sina Weibo), and at Bytedance (parent company of Douyin and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao), have all spoken publicly about their efforts to contain fake news.

Russia’s Troll Factory Just Launched A New Website Targeting Americans

By Caroline O.

6 June 2018

Three months after being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the notorious Russian troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA) has launched a new media venture targeting Americans. This time, however, there’s reason to believe the project may not be just another influence operation, but rather an intelligence gathering experiment.

The project, called “USA Really. Wake Up Americans,” was first announced in April by RIA FAN (, a St. Petersburg-based media empire that is known to be an offshoot of the Internet Research Agency. In a joint press release/job announcement that appeared in both Russian and English, RIA FAN called on English-speaking journalists and authors to apply for the new venture, which was described as an “information agency” that would combat “growing political censorship imposed by the United States” by “promoting information and problems that are hushed up by major American publications controlled by the US political elite.”

Trust, Media and Propaganda

By Joe Amditis

7 May 2018

It’s so frustrating to see the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy publish this piece by Christopher David Yung. In it, Yung explains why he believes the U.S. military is “universally admired” and trusted by the American public.

There are several problems with Yung’s post but, for the sake of time, I’ll do my best to address some of the most egregious among them.

Russian Propaganda On Reddit

By Caroline O.

18 April 2019

Reddit released a list of 944 accounts last week that it said were created by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the notorious “troll factory” based in St. Petersburg, Russia. This is the first time Reddit has publicly disclosed the names of IRA accounts on its website, following similar disclosures by Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

In a post accompanying the list of 994 IRA accounts, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said the company “did not detect any effective use of these accounts to engage in vote manipulation.” It’s not entirely clear what Huffman meant by this statement. While there is no evidence to suggest Reddit was used in any efforts to directly manipulate votes (i.e., by changing vote totals), there is evidence that exposure to “fake news” influenced voters’ decisions and contributed to Trump’s win. However, the degree to which Reddit contributed to the spread of “fake news” (misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda) ahead of the 2016 presidential election has not yet been determined.

Why Inaccurate Political Information Spreads

By Jonathan Ladd, with Alex Podkul

8 April 2018

We know that trust in the media is at an all-time low, and that what confidence there is in the press is polarized across party lines. Some pundits have pointed to the decline in trust overall in institutions, but the press appears to be a special case.

Looking closely at the data, we can see that while confidence in the press declined among both parties in the 1980s and 1990s, a large and still growing gap opened between the parties after 2000.