Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News

Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News. Pew Research Center. Amy Mitchell et al. June 18, 2018

The politically aware, digitally savvy and those more trusting of the news media fare better; Republicans and Democrats both influenced by political appeal of statements

In today’s fast-paced and complex information environment, news consumers must make rapid-fire judgments about how to internalize news-related statements – statements that often come in snippets and through pathways that provide little context. A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 69 pages].

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In Western Europe, Public Attitudes Toward News Media More Divided by Populist Views Than Left-Right Ideology

In Western Europe, Public Attitudes Toward News Media More Divided by Populist Views Than Left-Right Ideology. Pew Research Center.  Amy Mitchell et al. May 14, 2018.

 In Western Europe, public views of the news media are divided by populist leanings – more than left-right political positions – according to a new Pew Research Center public opinion survey conducted in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Across all eight countries, those who hold populist views value and trust the news media less, and they also give the media lower marks for coverage of major issues, such as immigration, the economy and crime. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 118 pages].

Social Media Use in 2018

Social Media Use in 2018. Pew Research Center. Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson. March 1, 2018.

 A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives.

Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 17 pages].

Democratic Defense against Disinformation

Democratic Defense against Disinformation.  Atlantic Council. Daniel Fried and Alina Polyakova. March 5, 2018.

 “The Russians and other purveyors of disinformation will constantly improve their tactics; our counter-tactics therefore cannot be static,” write Ambassador Daniel Fried and Dr. Alina Polyakova in Democratic Defense Against Disinformation, a new publication by the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. This report is part of the broader transatlantic effort to identify democratic solutions for countering disinformation in the short term and building societal resistance to it in the long term. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 32 pages].

Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver

Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver. Pew Research Center.  Amy Mitchell et al. January 11, 2018.

 Publics around the world overwhelmingly agree that the news media should be unbiased in their coverage of political issues, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 38 countries. Yet, when asked how their news media are doing on reporting different political issues fairly, people are far more mixed in their sentiments, with many saying their media do not deliver. And, in many countries, there are sharp political differences in views of the media – with the largest gap among Americans. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 55 pages, 2.26 MB].

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life. RAND Corporation.   Jennifer Kavanagh, Michael D. Rich. January 16, 2018.

 Over the past two decades, national political and civil discourse in the United States has been characterized by “Truth Decay,” defined as a set of four interrelated trends: an increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data; a blurring of the line between opinion and fact; an increase in the relative volume, and resulting influence, of opinion and personal experience over fact; and lowered trust in formerly respected sources of factual information. These trends have many causes, but this report focuses on four: characteristics of human cognitive processing, such as cognitive bias; changes in the information system, including social media and the 24-hour news cycle; competing demands on the education system that diminish time spent on media literacy and critical thinking; and polarization, both political and demographic. The most damaging consequences of Truth Decay include the erosion of civil discourse, political paralysis, alienation and disengagement of individuals from political and civic institutions, and uncertainty over national policy.

This report explores the causes and consequences of Truth Decay and how they are interrelated, and examines past eras of U.S. history to identify evidence of Truth Decay’s four trends and observe similarities with and differences from the current period. It also outlines a research agenda, a strategy for investigating the causes of Truth Decay and determining what can be done to address its causes and consequences. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 324 pages, 2.6 MB].

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online. Pew Research Internet Project. Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie. October 19, 2017

Experts are evenly split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online. Those forecasting improvement place their hopes in technological fixes and in societal solutions. Others think the dark side of human nature is aided more than stifled by technology. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 92 pages, 892.12 KB].