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As journalism goes, so goes democracy — the fight against fake news

The Toronto Star by Natalie Turvey 2 October 2019

We all have a tendency to think that big, complicated challenges require big, complicated answers. Not so. Sometimes, the simplest, most straightforward actions can do more to solve our problems than we ever imagined possible.

This is the case with fake news.

While misinformation, memes, clickbait and outright lies proliferate across our online feeds, especially in this election season, Canadians are not powerless to fight back. And it doesn’t take special software or training to do so. All it really takes is something each of us already has — you may call it intuition, skepticism or maybe the little voice in your head that alerts you when things feel “off.”

This problem goes beyond fooling people with photoshopped photos. It attacks truth and often on the most serious of issues. The Canadian Journalism Foundation has an overriding principle — as journalism goes, so goes democracy.

There’s no question it can be difficult to distinguish between fact-based real news and fake news and those who want to mislead and confuse us are becoming more sophisticated every day. Research shows that:

  • 90 per cent of Canadians admit to falling for fake news
  • Fake news stories spread six times faster than the truth
  • Only 33 per cent of Canadians regularly try to confirm if the news we see is real

Natalie Turvey is the executive Director of the Canadian Journalism Foundation.