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What are journalists doing to fight back against disinformation?

16 September 2019

News readers in TV studio

Researchers at Cardiff University will study how effectively broadcast outlets are tackling the spread of so-called fake news and disinformation.

Led by Professor Stephen Cushion and Dr Maria Kyriakidou at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture, the two-year project will investigate the production and output of disinformation reporting.

In collaboration with leading public service media (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) and a commercial news organisation (Sky News), the project will be the most in-depth UK comparative study of its kind.

Dr Kyriakidou said: “From state interference in other countries' election campaigns to the emergent influence of populist political candidates, parties and movements, the infrastructure of today's media and communication environment has opened up new ways of manipulating and disrupting flows of information.

“As a consequence, terms such as ‘post-truth politics’ or ‘fake news’ have become synonymous with the changing political environment, the growing supply of dubious disinformation and a crisis in the legitimacy of contemporary journalism.”

By engaging with journalists, media regulators, policy makers and audiences, the project will identify ways that online, TV, radio and social media platforms can more effectively counter disinformation and communicate their reporting.

Professor Cushion added: “The rise of disinformation about politics and public affairs represents an existential threat to the democratic governance of many countries. The media plays a central role in countering claims and counter claims, but since trust in mainstream news has declined, the legitimacy of journalism has been undermined.

In order to ensure public service media is viewed as a credible news source into the 21st century, it is essential that their disinformation reporting addresses the needs of citizens in a fast-changing media ecology.

Professor Stephen Cushion Director of Postgraduate Research

The project, ‘Countering disinformation: enhancing journalistic legitimacy in public service media’, is supported by a £579,183 research grant awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Its findings, which will include conference papers, articles, presentations and a book, will be promoted widely across university networks, the media and relevant stakeholders such as journalists, regulators, politicians, policy makers and citizens through a series of public and private meetings and events during 2021.

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