Sunday, December 10, 2017

Facing Fake News


Everyone has heard the term "Fake News." Most of us are well aware that much of what we read online could possibly be false information. 

But what happens when the information appears to be coming for a legitimate source, or the information is shared with us from someone we follow on social media? 

Further, it is important to also realize that the idea of "Fake News" is not a new thing. It has actually been around for a long time. 

Whether it takes the form of propaganda (remember Ramses II of Ancient Egypt from your ancient history lessons?) or what is called "Yellow Journalism," false information has been used in the past to both misinform the public and make money. 

Now, with the internet, anyone with an agenda can create false information in an attempt to sway your opinion, make money or create doubt and suspicion - just think about all the online conspiracy theories! 

Satire Versus Fake News

Some "news" gets spread on social media or by word of mouth through sources that are "satire."

Satire is not "Fake news." It is a form of humour, irony, ridicule or exaggeration to criticize or make a statement about current issues, usually related to politics or other social concerns.

So while the information is, essentially, false, its aim is not to misinform or mislead the public, but rather to entertain.

Click on a few of the links below to see some examples of satire online. Make sure to note what you find interesting or surprising in preparation to complete your blog entry.

This is That (CBC Radio)
Manatee News (Satire in Atlantic Canada)
The Onion (American Satire)
Walking Eagle (Indigenous Satire)
The Spoof (International)

The Dangers of (and Reasons for) Fake News

There is a lot of what is called "click-bait" on the Internet. "Click-bait" is anything that is used to encourage an online user to visit a website or social media page to generate more traffic and interest. 

Creators of fake news will use outrageous headlines or enticing photos to encourage users to "click" on the information. They will also encourage you to share the information in your social media space with your friends and followers. 

So when we immediately share something online without considering its credibility, we can be potentially spreading false information. We can become part of the problem, and some fake news has had some scary outcomes.

You may have already heard about the fake news that was dubbed "PizzaGate" during the 2016 American election. Read this article (click here) to find out more. Jot down anything that surprises you or you find interesting, since it will help you to complete your blog entry for this assignment.

So why do people create fake news? Aside from spreading false information to discredit someone, spread doubt or to sway opinion, false information can also be created to make money.

View this short video (click here) to find out how one teenager made a lot of money creating fake news.

Then read through this article (click here) to learn more about how Google and Facebook are attempting to restrict advertising that promotes fake news. 

Fake or Real?

Most of us like to think we can tell the difference between fake or real news. However, a recent survey of 8000 students tells a different story, so does a video created by BuzzFeed. Watch the two of them below. Make a note of anything that you think you could use for your discussion in your journal entry.

Spotting Fake News

Below are two videos that provide some tips on how to spot fake news. The first one also mentions some fake news examples. Watch each of them as they will help you complete your blog entry. Make note of any information that you find helpful and/or interesting for your blog entry.

Also read over the tips that follow on the image after the videos.

Click on image to enlarge

Fact-Checking Toolkit

Below are links to different sites that can help you determine whether information (or a photo) is fact or fake. Take a few minutes to check them out, as you will use them in your blog entry.

Snopes (and a guide to false news sites)
FactCheck (Canada-related Section)
The Washington Post Fact Checker
Media Bias/Fact Check
FactsCan (Canadian-based)
TinEye (Upload photos to determine where they appear online)

Blog Entry 

Click to enlarge
On March 11, 2011, there was a large nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The image to the right was posted on Imgur, a photo sharing website, in July 2015.

Do you think this image post provides strong evidence about the conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant? First explain in your blog entry why or why not before you do the next step.

How would you go about verifying if the claim is true or not? Based on the information you have read over and the sites you visited, see if you can confirm if the claim made in this photo (and the photo itself) is true. Describe what you did and share your results.

In the rest of your blog entry discuss what you found interesting or surprising from the different topics listed below. If you have had any experiences (or anyone you know)with fake news, please share them.
  • History of false or misleading information (propaganda and yellow journalism)
  • Satire Versus Fake News
  • The Dangers of (and Reasons for) Fake News
  • Fake or Real?
  • Spotting Fake News
  • Fact-Checking Toolkit
Deadline: Next Monday, December 18

Use this as a checklist to ensure you have completed everything for your blog entry:
  • The blog entry was completed on or before the deadline.
  • The entry includes a solid reasoning about the validity of the daisy image post.
  • The entry explains how the student verified the claim made in the daisy image post.
  • The entry effectively addresses the other six topics in a concise and informative style. 
  • There are fewer than three grammatical, spelling or sentence structure errors in the entry. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

WikiLeaks and Whistleblowers

Last week we viewed the documentary WikiRebels, and you submitted a written reflection in response to some of the issues explored in the documentary.

This week you will extend on your learning and your understanding of whistleblowing. Below are some suggested topics that you can explore, and a few links to help get you started. What you explore is pretty wide open as long as it is related to whistleblowing, WikiLeaks or leaked information.

So select something that you figure you will have some interest in and spend some time online doing some research on your topic.

Once you have read and/or viewed information, create a blog post and write a reflection about your topic. Include in your reflection:
  • An explanation/short summary of the topic (include links to any sites where you learned more about it)
  • Your own reflection on the topic (consider, if possible, extending on the thoughts you shared in last week's reflection; or if the issue is not easily relatable, provide new thoughts and opinions).
  • Discuss how this topic can connect to the world of journalism. For example, what implications does it have for how the public receives information and how to trust online sources? What challenges do you think your topic raises for journalists and the news media? What struggles might occur when it comes to journalism ethics and standards? 
Check out the rubric below and use it as a checklist to ensure you have not missed anything that should be included in your reflection:
  • There is a short summary or explanation of the topic that effectively provides enough information, but is still concise. 
  • Any online links that were used to gather information about the topic are included, and they are active links.
  • A number of thoughts and/or opinions are shared to create a solid reflection that either extends on last week's activity and/or provides new insights. 
  • There is a solid discussion on how the topic connects to journalism and the connections are effectively explored.  
Some suggested topics (remember, these are just suggestions, feel free to find your own online sources and a different topic and/or use the suggested ones below as a place to start):

More on WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks: not perfect, but more important than ever for free speech
Is WikiLeaks still relevant?

Alternatives to WikiLeaks
The Intercept
ICIJ and consider recently leaked information in the news (Paradise Papers)
Leak Site Directory
Top 6 Sites Like WikiLeaks

The Whistleblower Interview Project
5 Famous Whistleblowers Who Shaped History
10 Famous/Infamous Whistleblowers 
The Most Famous Whistleblowers on Why They Leaked
Why Companies Need to Embrace Whistleblowers
On Whistleblowers and Government Threats of Investigation 

Journalists and Whistleblowing
Canada passes law to protect whistleblowers and journalists’ confidential sources
La Presse columnist says he was put under police surveillance as part of 'attempt to intimidate'
The two LuxLeaks whistleblowers and journalist who helped them go on trial in Luxembourg
How Reporters Pulled Off the Panama Papers, the Biggest Leak in Whistleblower History

OpenLeaks and Founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg 
Top German Hacker Slams OpenLeaks Founder
OpenLeaks off to a Flying Fail

Monday, November 13, 2017

Reviewing Midterm Plans of Action and Goals

This week your class assignment extends on what you did last week when you reflected on your course participation and teamwork (plan of action and goals).

You will look over the reflection you did on your individual participation and consider what you think your participation mark should be for the midterm report. As part of this process, you will write a short rationale explaining how you came up with your mark and sometime during this week you will discuss your suggested mark and rationale with the teacher.

In your teams, you will also review your plan of action and midterm goal(s). You then have the rest of this week to complete your work assignments.

NOTE: If you have incomplete class assignments, make sure to get them done as soon as possible this week. 

Instructions on how to help you determine your midterm participation mark. 

Click on the image to enlarge

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Work Assignments: Reflecting and Planning


You have been involved for about half the semester in your work assignments, so now is a good time to consider:
  • What you have done; what your team has done
  • What others are doing and how they do it (for example, professional journalists)
  • And what more you could aim to do and accomplish (plan of action with a goal)
This activity will essentially be a reflection on your team participation and work assignment. It will also be a plan of action where you will explore what is going on in the professional field and creating a team goal so you could enhance your work assignment to offer more to your audience.

Individually, you will also reflect on your own class and team participation as well as the contributions you have made to the work assignments you have been involved in.

You (and your team) will do this work online by completing submitted forms. It is expected that you get the work done today in class if at all possible, particularly the individual reflection.


Click here to complete the individual reflection. 
Once you have completed the individual reflection, work with your team to complete the team reflection and plan of action. 
Click here to complete the team reflection and plan of action.
Deadline: ASAP


Podcasting - School's In
  1. The in-depth style of writing news radio stories 
  2. Tips for writing news radio scripts
  3. Basics of writing for news radio
  4. Radio interview on CBC Information Morning - Fredericton
The Blackville Talon - Sports
The Blackville Talon - News/Public Relations/Entertainment/People's Picks
  1. Tips for Writing News Features
  2. Feature Writing
  3. Photo Techniques (Look at Techniques and also News and Feature Photos and People photos) 
  4. Story ideas
  5. Writing a Film Review
  6. Tips on how to make a video news report
  7. Story ideas
The Blackville Talon - Kids Korner
  1. Photo Techniques (Look at Techniques and also News and Feature Photos and People photos) 
  2. Interviewing children
The Blackville Talon - Video
  1. Student share opinions on video
  2. Opinions shared on a news report
  3. BuzzFeed Videos (One example with teenagers)
  4. Interviewing children
  5. Tips on how to make a video news report
  6. Story ideas
The Blackville Talon - Layout/Design/Social Media
Video Announcements
  1. Video examples 
  2. Look at other schools' video announcements
Yearbook - Business Manager
Yearbook - Editors

Monday, October 30, 2017

Caught in Lies

Below are links to articles on journalists who have been caught in lies. Read the two articles and complete a reflective piece (journal entry) based on the questions below. Include a creative title for your entry. Remember to look at how your work will be assessed. The assessment is below the questions. This assignment is to be posted and completed on your blog by next Monday, November 06.

The articles
Questions to use for your journal reflection:
  • Have you ever considered that the news you read (or watch or hear) may be factually incorrect or even fabricated? Explain why or why not.

  • What is your reaction to the two articles? Were you surprised to find out that professional journalists have fabricated news?

  • Journalist Jack Shafer writes “most liars make things up for the simple reason that they don't have the talent or the ability to get the story any other way.” Do you agree with Shafer's assertion? Explain.

  • Given what Shafer says, do you think that colleges and universities should make sure graduating journalism students can handle the responsibilities and pressures? Discuss your thoughts in your entry.

  • Do you think when issues of ethics arise that a newspaper ombudsman helps? An ombudsman is a professional journalist whose sole responsibility is to respond to reader complaints and provide an independent critique of the paper's performance. Explain why or why not. Read more here if you require additional information.
How you will be assessed on the following (5 pts each for a total of 20 pts):
  • Overall, the journal entry shows much thought and effort.

  • There are fewer than three grammatical errors or sentence structure issues in the entry.

  • Each question provided for the entry has been effectively addressed.

  • The entry was completed on time and includes a creative title.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hard News vs. Soft News

Read the following two explanations on what is hard news versus soft news (media).
  1. Find one news articles that you consider is definitely hard news and explain why (include the characteristics of what a hard news article is). Provide a link for the article.
  2. Find one news articles that you consider is definitely soft news and explain why (include the characteristics of what a soft news article is). Provide a link for the article.
  3. Find one news article where you think the line between whether it is hard or soft news is blurred. Then make a decision on how you would categorize the article based on the tone of the article and its purpose. Provide a link to the article.
  • Deadline: Next Monday, October 30
Some sites that you can use to find your news articles:

This article on the People site, "Meet the World's Longest Cat, Stewie," is definitely soft news. It is amusing and includes an entertaining photo. The article is casual in its presentation (headline), and it is a human-interest story. Or, should I say, a pet-interest story? The story has some of the characteristics of a hard news story, as it presents the basic information. However, the quotations from its sources are more entertaining than useful, and the article does not go into any depth on the issue it is covering. This is one soft news story where the type of story it is can be based solely on the topic and the headline.


5 pts each for a total of 20 pts
  • All the work is complete and includes one soft news and one hard news and one in the "blur zone"
  • There is evidence of much thought and overall effort in the selection of the articles and the reasoning behind the chosen categories
  • The student shows a clear understanding of hard vs. soft news
  • There are less than three grammatical errors or sentence structure issues

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What is Newsworthy?

You have looked at how a news story is structured, and in journalism class you started work on your job assignments. Every job assignment we have - from the yearbook to podcasting to the online school newspaper - deals with how newsworthy the story is. Whatever we are covering, we have to ask ourselves what is newsworthy to our audience.

Read the following article "What Makes a Story Newsworthy". This article provides a list of five factors that make a story newsworthy:
  • Timing
  • Significance
  • Proximity
  • Prominence
  • Human Interest
Find two news articles online from news sources like CBCHuffington Post, or VICE News, and using a scale from 1-4 (1 being the least, 4 being the most), grade each story on how newsworthy it is. Your score will total up to 20 points (5 factors X 4 points each).

Include in each score a summary explaining your mark for each factor. Also make sure to provide a link to each news story. NOTE: If you do not complete this assignment in the same day, make sure to get your links from the selected stories so you can easily access them the next day. See below for an example of this assignment.

You will be assessed on:
  • Overall effort
  • Spelling/Grammar/Mechanics
  • Strong summary for each factor
  • Links to each news story, story headlines and final marks are provided
Deadline is next Monday, October 30. 

An Example:

Chilean miners' rescue capsule works in test

Timing - 4/4
This is a news story that has been in the public eye since August when the 33 miners were trapped. It is the latest update in the rescue mission which will begin on Wednesday to free the trap miners. I gave it a 4/4 on timing, because it is an update on the rescue attempt of these trapped miners.

Significance - 3/4
While the number of miners trapped is not in the hundreds, 33 miners is a significant number. It has grabbed the attention of not only the people of Chile, but everyone around the world.

Proximity - 3/4
The geographical proximity is not close for a Canadian reader, but Canadians can connect to this story as we have had our share of mining disasters. It is a story that connects to Canadian history, and it a story we hope has a happy ending.

Prominence - 2/4
The story has prominence because of the number of miners and the unique rescue attempt that is being made. I gave it a lower mark because few would have known who these miners were even in their own country, let alone in the world. Although they are well known now because of their dire circumstances.

Human Interest - 4/4
This story appeals greatly to emotion as people hope and pray that the 33 miners are rescued successfully.

Final Newsworthy Mark - 16/20