Monday, 20 March 2017

News Organisations Inadvertently Spreading False Facts Even as They Refute Them

In How News Organizations Inadvertently Spread "Alternative Facts" Gleb Tsipursky explains that many readers will tend to believe President Donald Trump's claims, even when they aren't true, because of the way the media presents them.
Behavioral science suggests that despite Trump offering no substantive facts for his claim, the mainstream media’s current coverage will get him what he craves. Fortunately, we can use the same research to reframe the narrative to help truth trump Trump’s evidence-free accusations.
This is because many people only glance at the headlines rather than reading the full reports. Tsipursky suggests an alternate way of presenting the stories:
Reframing the media coverage of Trump’s claims, using techniques informed by behavioral science, would disincentivize Trump from making such baseless statements, instead of rewarding him. Rather than focusing on relating the details of the specific claims made by Trump, news headlines and introductory paragraphs could foreground the pattern of our President systematically making accusations lacking evidence.

For instance, in the case of this specific news item, AP News could have run the headline “Trump Delivers Another Accusation Without Evidence, This Time Against Obama.” CNN could have introduced the story by focusing on Trump’s pattern of making serial allegations of immoral and illegal actions by his political opponents without any evidence, focusing this time on his predecessor. Then, deeper in the article where the shallow skimmers do not reach, the story could have detailed the allegations made by Trump. This style of media coverage would make Trump less inclined to make such claims, as he would not get the impact he wants.

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