One of the most challenging problems of the digital information age is how to report on disinformation without pouring gasoline on the fire in the process. While working with the New York-based group Data & Society, media analyst Whitney Phillips (now an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University) wrote a comprehensive report on this challenge, entitled The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators. We recently asked Phillips to join us for an interview on our Galley discussion platform; our conversation unfolded over several days.
The idea that journalists can exacerbate problems merely by doing their jobs is somewhat more widely accepted now, thanks in part to the work of Phillips and Joan Donovan, who runs the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center (and also did an interview with CJR on Galley recently). After the recent mass shooting incident in New Zealand, a number of media outlets chose not to focus on the shooter, and didn’t publish or link to his “manifesto.” In some cases, news outlets didn’t even use his name, which is a big change from just a few years ago. But Phillips says there is more to be done.
“I’ve been considering these questions for the better part of a decade and I still find them vexing,” she says. There are some basic guidelines that are comparatively clear, including efforts to avoid publicizing anything that hasn’t yet met its tipping point and moved from a discrete online
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/the_new_gatekeepers/disinformation-whitney-phillips.php