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While iconic news photos can deliver powerful messages on important issues, they could also be misleading sometimes.

Power of images

In English, there is a phrase “Seeing is believing.” In Chinese, people say “眼見為實(眼见为实) — To see is to believe.”

On the internet, this new expression, “有圖(图)有真相 — No photo, no proof,” is also very popular in the Chinese speaking communities.

In fact, many countries have very similar, or even identical, expressions. The idea seems universal. We tend to believe what we see with our own eyes.

That’s why photos and videos are an essential part of the news. Images show what it’s like to be at the scene.

Cameras serve as our eyes and ears. We feel like we understand the news better with visual information because, as people often say, a picture is worth a thousand words. …

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Journalistic truth is not absolute. It is the best obtainable version of the truth based on verified facts up to that point of publication. News reporting builds over time.

Key takeaways

Truth (journalistic truth)

  • Journalistic truth is the best obtainable version of the truth based on verified facts up to that point of publication.
  • News reporting is a continuing journey towards finding the truth as our understanding can only build over time.
  • The news audience needs to follow the story over time.

Evidence

  • Not all evidence is equal. News stories are composed of both direct and arm’s length evidence.
  • Journalists make inferences and present “likely scenarios.” Inferences could break down with new evidence.
  • Journalists must make that transparent in their reports.
  • The audience should understand the limitations of news reports.

Limitations in journalism

  • Journalists are constantly racing against time. …
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Algorithms are not some mysterious magic behind social media services. Users can control what they see to a certain degree if they know how to “train” the personalized algorithms.

Key takeaways

  • Our ‘snap judgment’ to click, like, and share media content is an ‘editorial’ decision.
  • Platforms take our actions and preferences into the mathematical formulas known as algorithms that determine what content we encounter.
  • Algorithms affect the patterns of our news consumption but to a degree, we can control how the algorithms behave.

Introduction: editorial judgment

[Video transcript]

When news editors and producers are making editorial judgments to decide which stories to allocate their resources, the news values are not the only factor.

They also try to strike a balance between what the audience wants to know and what it might need to know. …

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In today's media and information landscape, news and journalism need to be redefined for the students.

Introduction

The following introduction activities are designed to bring out the following talking points:

  • News is something new; something people want to know and share (public interest).
  • Rumors and gossips can be true or not true, but news should be fact-based (verified or verifiable information).
  • In today’s media landscape it is not easy at all to define what “news” is or what “journalism” is, however.

Activity idea 1:

  • Ask students to check their mobile phones and find the last three things they have shared with their friends and family members (An Instagram photo? A tweet? A video clip on TikTok? A web link? A text message?). …

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Advertising material that resembles news borrows journalism’s credibility to promote a product, service, person, group, or even an idea.

Introduction

[Transcript]

In print newspapers and magazines, we have what we call advertorials. They look and read like news articles but in fact, they are sponsored content.

In other words, someone paid to put the story into the newspaper, just like an advertisement, but it is presented in the form of an article.

The one on the screen is a scanned image of one such advertorial published in the South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong.

And here’s the media company’s rate card which shows how much you need to pay to place an advertorial.

When you Google “advertorial examples,” you can easily find many examples of this practice. …

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Some news stories are re-written press releases. Should we call those reports journalistic content?

Introduction

[Video Transcript]

The fundamental difference between news stories and other forms of storytelling is that news is factual — it should not be a result of fictional imagination, which is to say, all the information in a news story should come from somewhere outside of reporters’ brain.

So, where do journalists get information about things? There are many ways for news reporters to find story ideas, but one of the common ways is to start with a press release.

For example, here is a press release the University of Hong Kong gave to the members of the press in 2011. It basically tells that many international students were choosing our university and the number of overseas applications hit a record high. …

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Do your students really understand the impact of social media on the news they consume? How about its effect on overall human psychology, behavior, and interactions?

Introduction

Establish how powerful the information we like, share, and produce on social media could be. You may like to show the following videos.

Age 15 and above
Age below 15
For a more discussion-based introduction

Activity

Social media pledge + self-reflective video monologue

Learning outcome

Students should be able to:

  • Understand the impact of social media not only on the news they consume as well as its effect on overall human psychology, behaviors, and interactions;
  • Evaluate how it affects themselves personally.

Step 1: internet usage self-reporting survey

In this step, students are asked to log their internet usage every day for one week. They need to submit how many minutes they spend on what activities (you might need to show how to get the app usage and screen time data on different devices although most students know how to retrieve such information these days. …

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We are all about experimental pedagogy.

Why news education?

A constant stream of fraudulent news stories in our daily media diet has given rise to troubling cultural trends and alarming political movements in recent years across the world.

False claims, deceptive factoids, exaggerations, propaganda, hoaxes, rumors, questionable advertising, radical extremism, and other types of misleading content, often called misinformation and disinformation, are now being masqueraded as journalism.

In today’s digital world, we are flooded with an abundance of all types of information. …

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By Annie Lab team

We have created a Flipboard magazine to share our bookmarks of fact-checking stories related to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

If you have any content that seems to have not yet been investigated by any. fact checker, please contact us so that our team can look into it.

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Annie Lab newsroom is a fact-checking project at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong (HKU Journalism) in collaboration with ANNIE (Asian Network of News & Information Educators), a not-for-profit educational organization registered in Hong Kong (CR number 2890935).

Background

In recent years, a constant stream of fraudulent news stories has given rise to troubling cultural trends and alarming political movements across the world.

False claims, misleading factoids, unsound exaggerations, propaganda, hoaxes, rumors, questionable advertising, radical extremism and other types of misinformation and disinformation are now being masqueraded and distributed as news.

In October 2019, the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong (HKU Journalism) co-established a daily fact-checking newsroom in partnership with ANNIE (Asian Network of News & Information Educators), a not-for-profit organization focusing on news literacy education in Asia. …

About

ANNIE

Official account of Asian Network of News & Information Educators

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