Is that a fact?

Is that a fact?

"Is that a fact?" is produced by the non-partisan national education non-profit the News Literacy Project. It seeks to inform listeners about news literacy issues that affect their lives through informative conversations with experts working to combat misinformation.

Episodes

September 7, 2023 32 mins

In today’s episode we speak with Emily Hund, author of The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media, about the evolution of social media influencers and how disparate events like rapid advances in technology and the decline of traditional news outlets have boosted their prevalence and impact since their emergence during the Great Recession.

These authentic-seeming people whose lives unfold online pro...

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You know the routine. You develop a physical symptom you’ve never had before and what do you do? You grab your phone and furiously Google symptoms and related medical conditions.

If you land on reputable medical sources, it’s not a problem — except it might provoke some unwarranted anxiety. But when online searches and social media spout quackery, the information you consume, and maybe act on, can put your health in danger...

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Things have been heating up — literally — since Sabrina Shankman, our latest podcast guest, began covering climate change a decade ago. The scientific community has presented indisputable evidence that climate change is the result of carbon emissions from human activity. News organizations have committed more resources to covering the complex topic. And climate deniers and the misinformation they spread have evolved along with the ...

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Libel laws and the First Amendment in the United States are meant to hit a sweet spot — protecting reputations and facts while also affording journalists the freedom to publish unflattering information about powerful people that the public needs to know. But disinformation is increasingly threatening that balance.

In this episode, law professor RonNell Andersen Jones explains what could be at risk. “If it's too easy f...

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Have you ever scratched your head when reading an article or watching the news and wondered if you were getting facts or opinion? If so, you’re not alone. News organizations have not made it easy for consumers to differentiate between news and the views of an individual or media outlet.
 
Tom Rosenstiel, professor at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism and co-author of The Elements of Journalism...

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In today’s episode of our podcast Is that a fact?,  guest LaSharah Bunting, CEO and executive director of the Online News Association, discusses how digital innovation has allowed newsrooms to create deeper connections with their audiences so they  can better understand the needs of the communities they serve. For Bunting, there is no newsroom innovation without employing digital tools to create pathways for two-way conversations b...

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In today’s episode of our podcast Is that a fact?,  guest host Jake Lloyd digs into how misinformation manifests in the sports world with author and journalist Jemele Hill, a contributing writer for The Atlantic and host of the Spotify podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered. Hill discusses not only how sports falsehoods spread, but also how the nature of sports reporting makes it more resistant to manipulation than news coverage.

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Our guest on this episode is Madhumita Murgia, the first artificial intelligence editor at the Financial Times, based in London. We talked about how generative AI is changing journalism. Our interview was recorded in late March.

Additional reading:

Is that a fact? is a production of the News Lite...

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Our guest on this episode is Will Knight, senior writer about artificial intelligence at Wired magazine. We discuss how ChatGPT is being applied to search and what some of the potential and pitfalls are of this new class of technology known as "generative AI."

Additional reading:

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This episode of “Is that a Fact?” is part one of a two-part episode marking the 10th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman murdered 20 first graders and six adults. Soon after, conspiracy theories calling the massacre a hoax emerged. And they have persisted for a decade, thanks to amplification and profiteering by alt-Right media figure Alex Jones.
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This episode of “Is that a Fact?” is part two of a two-part episode marking the 10th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman murdered 20 first graders and six adults. If you haven’t listened to part one, in which we interview New York Times feature writer and author of the book, Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth, we highly recommend ...

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In this episode, we interview Dr. Reece Jones, chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and author of White Borders: The History of Race and Immigration in the United States from Chinese Exclusion to the Border Wall, for an overview of the most enduring false narratives that have shaped our public conversations about immigration.

We then speak to Roberto Suro, a professor o...

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In this episode we talk to two journalists covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine to help us better understand how disinformation and propaganda are obscuring, or outright contradicting, the facts, both within Russia and beyond its borders. 

Our first guest, Roman Anin, is a Pulitzer Prize-winner and founder and editor-in-chief of the Russian news portal iStories and a former investigative journalist for the recently shu...

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December 16, 2021 52 mins

In this episode, we set out to explore whether false narratives about the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccines have overshadowed science or whether science has managed to hold its own, particularly in light of the politicization of the pandemic.

Politics has certainly influenced who has chosen to get vaccinated. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “there continue to be differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates along partisan li...

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In this episode, we set out to explore whether the narrative of the country’s deep political polarization is fiction or reality. If you follow the news, you’ve probably heard that the country is deeply divided on political issues. Since 1992, no presidential candidate has received more than 53% of the popular vote. In recent years, Congress has routinely been deadlocked over some of the country’s most pressing issues. But what’s go...

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For the second season of Is that a fact?, we’re exploring the origins of false narratives and the harm they have caused. We know that sharing misinformation is misleading and leaves people poorly informed, but we wanted to go deeper and explore how fictional information starts and then bubbles to the surface to misdirect the country’s civic and cultural discourse.

For our first episode of the season, we take a look back at the myths...

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In this special episode of Is that a fact? we explore why some people remain hesitant to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines, despite growing evidence that inoculation is the key to getting our lives and the economy back on track. We wanted to find out just how much misinformation might be to blame for that reluctance or if genuine concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines might be giving people pause.

To answer this ...

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This episode, which was recorded live on Zoom on Wednesday, November 18 with a panel of experts, is our season finale. Our host moderated a conversation with Enrique Acevedo of CBS’ “60 in 6,” Dr. Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center and Jane Lytvynenko of BuzzFeed News about how misinformation impacted the 2020 elections and what we can anticipate on the horizon. 

Acevedo is a correspondent on the new CBS production “60 in 6.” Be...

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Our guest this week is Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior political scientist at RAND corporation, a nonprofit global public policy think tank. Our host spoke to Kavanagh about a phenomenon she and her colleagues have dubbed “Truth Decay.” We wanted to know why truth has been under assault in recent years, why Americans are increasingly rejecting the expertise of institutions we used to hold in high esteem and what we can do about it?

 Kav...

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November 2, 2020 32 mins

Our guest this week is Cindy Otis, a former CIA analyst who is now the vice president for analysis for Alethea Group, where she leads disinformation investigations in the private sector. Our host spoke to Otis about why conspiracy theories have become more mainstream, what’s lending them such currency and what we can do to inoculate ourselves against them.

Otis spent 10 years at the CIA as a military analyst, intelligence briefer, a...

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