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Report: US media polarisation caused by “propaganda and disinformation” rather than “fake news”

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Report: US media polarisation caused by “propaganda and disinformation” rather than “fake news”

The study's results, published by CJR, show the growth of a distinct, hyper-partisan right-wing media system in the US, anchored around Breitbart, that uses social media as a backbone to transmit its worldview.

Rather than relying on “fake news” – purposefully false information published for financial gain – the members of this right-wing media cluster combine decontextualised facts combined with falsehoods and conspiracies, the study found. 

Although the far-right news media has largely separated into its own insular cluster, the study points out that this is not the case on the left side of the spectrum. Therefore, the reasons behind the polarisation of the US news media sphere are not so much technical, but rather a consequence of political and cultural reasons, the researchers argue.

Although partisanship in itself is not a new feature in the news media, the purposeful division that many far-right publishers sow is unforeseen: “Use of disinformation by partisan media sources is neither new nor limited to the right wing, but the insulation of the partisan right-wing media from traditional journalistic media sources, and the vehemence of its attacks on journalism in common cause with a similarly outspoken president, is new and distinctive.”

Although the CPJ study focuses on the US media, its lessons are likely to be instructive also in other media markets, especially in France and Germany, where similar developments are predicted to take place. Writing for the Guardian, Paul Mason offers some suggestions for how news media should respond.


Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson


2017-03-07 15:27

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