Google gives CJF $1M to tackle fake news

The Google News Initiative is granting the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) $1 million to expand its NewsWise program to help Canadians discern between legitimate and fake news.

The grant will provide Canadian publishers with tools, like interactive PSAs and other digital content, developed by experts and educators.

According to new Earnscliffe Strategy Group research commissioned by CJF, 40% of Canadians report finding it difficult to distinguish between truth and misinformation in the news. More than half of those involved in the Earnscliffe study (53%) reported coming across stories where the facts were twisted to push an agenda. A large proportion of respondents (46%) also saw headlines that looked like news but turned out to be paid content or ads.

When asked if this confusion is leading people to not know which politicians to trust, 85% strongly agreed or agreed; up from 56% in 2018. 74% agreed that the average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumors and falsehood, up from 63% last year.

“This confusion creates an erosion of trust that is a very real threat to the foundation of our democracy,” said Natalie Turvey, CJF president and executive director, in a release. “Manipulation and misinformation sow many seeds; from distrust of leaders and unfounded damages to reputations to promoting hatred and recruitment of people to extremist groups. We are deeply grateful to the Google News Initiative for supporting our news literacy effort and for recognizing the value of the CJF’s work. This ongoing support will allow us to scale the NewsWise program and advance the dial on news literacy with voting-age Canadians across the country.”

The goal is to make NewsWise programming, which is already delivered to students in grades 5-12, widely available to Canadians in advance of this year’s federal election to help people better gauge the reliability of the information they’re consuming.

Additional findings from the Earnscliffe study:

  • Getting news only on mobile devices is increasing exponentially; from 24% in 2016 to more than one-third (35 per cent) of all consumers today.
  • Gathering and consuming news differs greatly by age, and the behavior in finding news underlines some of the most significant differences. For example, 83% of traditionalists (born before 1946) were specifically looking for news compared to two-thirds of Generation Z (born after 1995) who were doing something else when they stumbled on news.
  • The gap between getting news from traditional media (TV, newspapers) websites and social media has been almost erased. Three years ago, 71% relied on traditional media websites and 54% went to social media for news; today, it’s dropped to 62% traditional media websites and 58% social media.
  • Almost two-thirds (62%) believe we will soon get ALL our news online, up from 58% in 2016.

Earnscliffe’s online poll gathered responses from 2,359 respondents and is accurate to two percentage points plus or minus. Based on the Earnscliffe research and other resources, the CJF is producing a detailed white paper on the spread of fake news, its implications and how to guard against online manipulation.


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