Tag Archives: reporting

What’s wrong with the “Russian election hacking” meme



Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, and Fearless Leader were cartoon representations of Russian spies in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon (1959-1964). Any resemblance between comic cartoons and current political rhetoric is purely intentional.

On December 29, the New York Times headlined, Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking. As news consumers, what questions do we need to ask about that story?

Question #1: What is this “election hacking?” Continue reading

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Filed under elections, media, news

Dakota Pipeline Part 5: Jailing journalists and paying sock puppets


Photo of Sacred Stone Camp by Tony Webster, published under Creative Commons license.

As thousands of Native Americans gather in North Dakota to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), local law enforcement has pushed back by arresting journalists covering the protests and the Sacred Stone Camp and by outright lies about the protests and protesters. In addition, misinformation and propaganda is flooding social media, posted through sock puppets and other sources. Continue reading


Filed under environment, human rights, media, race

Don’t believe everything you read: Phony news and how to spot it

Did you read about the world’s biggest baby, born in China, weighing 73 pounds? How about Pope Francis’s denunciation of Pokemon as the devil’s tool? Or about Donald Trump’s cousin leaving a statement for his obituary begging people not to vote for him? Or that Donald Trump says President Obama founded ISIS? Okay – the last one is unfortunately true, which shows how hard it can be to tell actual news from fiction and satire, this year more than ever.

I spend lots of time reading news, and I care passionately about sorting truth from lies. So I’m going to write a series of blog posts to share what I’ve learned over a lifetime of working at this Sisyphean task. Today: phony news sites. Next time: Satire beyond The Onion. After that: Outright lies and hoaxes. Finally: Not really science and not really health. Continue reading


Filed under elections, media, news

Following the numbers – not always easy, even for journos

When I read the Strib article on home health care overbilling, I recalled last year’s 60 Minutes exposé of highly-organized health care fraud in Florida, and tried to check back to see what has been done to investigate, prosecute, and stop the fraud. The first article that turned up was a May 6 CBS I-Team report from Florida, charging that “government investigators say CMS still can’t accurately track improper Medicare payments.” That sounded important, but the article itself was confusing, referring to the 60 Minutes report, quoting President Obama in a context that was not clear, and referring to “a new bill” to attack fraud. Continue reading

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X-Files and journalism

“I’m not happy with ‘we are all journalists now,'” writes Scott Rosenberg. “Let’s give it an edit. Let’s change it to ‘Now, anyone can do journalism.'”

I like Rosenberg’s change of focus. The important issue for citizen journalism is reporting, not credentialing. Continue reading

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