Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training

This new publication by UNESCO is a timely resource and highly topical subject for all those who practice or teach journalism in this Digital Age.


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Module Two: Thinking about 'Information Disorder'


Thinking about 'Information Disorder': Formats of Misinformation, Disinformation and Mal-Information 

By Claire Wardle & Hossein Derakshan 

There have been many uses of the term ‘fake news’ and even ‘fake media’ to describe reporting with which the claimant does not agree. A Google Trends map shows that people began searching for the term extensively in the second half of 2016. In this module participants will learn why that term is a) inadequate for explaining the scale of information pollution, and b) why the term has become so problematic that we should avoid using it.

Unfortunately, the phrase is inherently vulnerable to being politicised and deployed as a weapon against the news industry, as a way of undermining reporting that people in power do not like. Instead, it is recommended to use the terms misinformation and disinformation.

This module will examine the different types that exist and where these types sit on the spectrum of ‘information disorder’. This covers satire and parody, click-bait headlines, and the misleading use of captions, visuals or statistics, as well as the genuine content that is shared out of context, imposter content (when a journalist’s name or a newsroom logo is used by people with no connections to them), and manipulated and fabricated content. 

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