Canadians have difficulty identifying fake news

TORONTO, May 2, 2019 /CNW/ - The Google News Initiative has granted The Canadian Journalism Foundation $1 million to expand the NewsWise program to help all Canadians understand how to identify authentic news from misinformation. Aimed at educating audiences on how to understand and navigate an increasingly complex information environment, this grant will provide Canadian publishers with tools – such as interactive PSAs and other digital content - developed by experts and educators.

Google and CJF's commitment to fact-based journalism comes at a pivotal time for Canada: 40% of Canadians report finding it difficult to distinguish between truth and misinformation in the News, according to a new poll commissioned by the CJF. Research conducted by Earnscliffe Strategy Group shows that more than half of respondents (53%) have come across stories where the facts were twisted to push an agenda. A large proportion of respondents (46%) also saw headlines that looked like news but turned out to be paid content or ads.

When asked if this confusion is leading people to not know which politicians to trust, 85% strongly agreed or agreed; up from 56 per cent in 2018. When asked if the average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumors and falsehood, 74% strongly agreed or agreed; compared to 63% last year.

"This confusion creates an erosion of trust that is a very real threat to the foundation of our democracy," says CJF President and Executive Director Natalie Turvey. "Manipulation and misinformation sow many seeds; from distrust of leaders and unfounded damages to reputations to promoting hatred and recruitment of people to extremist groups.  We are deeply grateful to the Google News Initiative for supporting our news literacy effort and for recognizing the value of the CJF's work. This ongoing support will allow us to scale the NewsWise program and advance the dial on news literacy with voting-age Canadians across the country."

The goal is to make the NewsWise programming available to Canadians in advance of this year's federal election, with the aim of helping Canadian citizens gauge the reliability of the information they're consuming.

"To be an engaged citizen is to have access to quality journalism," says Richard Gingras, VP Google News. "That's why we're thrilled to support the Canadian Journalism Foundation in expanding NewsWise, so that Canadians of all ages understand how to find and filter authoritative information online. News literacy is fundamental to a healthy democracy and a central pillar of the Google News Initiative."

NewsWise builds on the success of its namesake initiative that's already being delivered to school-aged Canadians.  In 2017, with a grant from the Google News Initiative, the CJF partnered with CIVIX for the NewsWise student news literacy program. Its mission is to help students (grades 5-12) cultivate habits of news consumption and critical-thinking that support informed citizenship in the digital age. NewsWise lessons are designed to help students understand the difference between opinion and fact, develop an appreciation for journalism and traditional media, and identify whether a claim or source is credible. This election year, the NewsWise program will reach over a million Canadian students.

Additional findings from the Earnscliffe study:

  • Getting news only on mobile devices is increasing exponentially; from 24% in 2016 to more than one-third (35 per cent) of all consumers today.
  • Gathering and consuming news differs greatly by age, and the behavior in finding news underlines some of the most significant differences. For example, 83% of traditionalists (born before 1946) were specifically looking for news compared to two-thirds of Generation Z (born after 1995) who were doing something else when they stumbled on news.
  • The gap between getting news from traditional media (TV, newspapers) websites and social media has been almost erased. Three years ago, 71% relied on traditional media websites and 54% went to social media for news; today, it's dropped to 62% traditional media websites and 58% social media.
  • The death of newspapers has long been exaggerated, but the day may soon be coming when the paper version will no longer exist. Almost two-thirds (62%) believe we will soon get ALL our news online, up from 58% in 2016.

The substantive online poll using 2,359 respondents – compared to standard online polls using about 1,200 – is accurate to two percentage points plus or minus and re-enforces the need to provide news consumers with the tools to help distinguish between real news and fake news.

Based on the Earnscliffe research and other resources, the CJF is producing a detailed white paper on the spread of fake news, its implications and how to guard against online manipulation.

About The Canadian Journalism Foundation
Founded in 1990, The Canadian Journalism Foundation promotes, celebrates and facilitates excellence in journalism. The foundation runs a prestigious awards and fellowships program featuring an industry gala where news leaders, journalists and corporate Canada gather to celebrate outstanding journalistic achievement and the value of professional journalism. Through monthly J-Talks, a public speakers' series, the CJF facilitates dialogue among journalists, business people, academics and students about the role of the media in Canadian society and the ongoing challenges for media in the digital era. The foundation also fosters opportunities for journalism education, training and research.

About the Google News Initiative
The Google News Initiative (GNI) is an effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Every day, GNI works with thousands of news organizations to help meet their business needs and address industry challenges. Whether by experimenting with new formats such as virtual reality or by equipping them with cutting-edge tools, GNI strives to help news partners power their technological infrastructure to better understand and connect with their users. Through GNI Innovation Challenges, the initiative will also empower news innovators from around the world to demonstrate new thinking in online journalism and the development of new publishing business models. Knowledge generated from the projects will be shared with the wider industry. GNI is Google's longstanding commitment to the news industry bringing together everything the company does in collaboration with the industry—across products, partnerships, and programs—to help build a stronger future for news.

SOURCE: Canadian Journalism Foundation