Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.

Duncan J. Watts, David M. Rothschild, Columbia Journalism Review, Dec 11, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

One of the more salient stories this year has revolved around the phenomenon of fake news and (via fake news) managing and massaging public perceptions. The gist of this article is that, while social media manipulation is a problem that cannot be taken lightly, it would be misleading to attribute the U.S. election results (and the Brexit vote, etc.) to social media. Instead, write the authors of this report, we should look at mainstream media. For example, "in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election." I find it interesting that it is this same media that is now affixing responsibility for the outccome on social media, when the scale of the coverage in traditional media dwarfs that found through alternativer sources. And finally, I attribute the election results to the voters (and I use the word 'attribute' rather than 'blame' when putting on my scientific or journalistic hat). 

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