As a journalist-owned network, no one is better poised to restore trust in the news industry and create a better future of news for everyone than VNN. We work to educate our communities about the news media industry, to restore trust in news media, and to help people become more news media literate. Mass media should be helpful, not harmful. VNN strives to help through information on this page, and through our upcoming virtual town hall “Repairing the Divide”. Read on for more information!

VIRTUAL TOWN HALL SPONSORS

All sponsorship money funds local news stories in our communities. Would you like to learn more about becoming a virtual town hall sponsor? Email VNN Founder Brittany Harlow today.

News Media Industry Pitfalls

Traditional Media

As former TV journalists, we can tell you the sensational stories are the most coveted. Crime and other excitement lead newscasts; “soft” news is at the end, if it even makes it at all. Businesses wanting news coverage are directed to the sales department.

Traditional news has lost a lot of its objectivity, and now leans on the subjectivity of its target audience to increase engagement and loyalty. Personalities have replaced news journalists.

RAND is studying “Truth Decay”, a media phenomenon they define as “a diminishing role in facts and data in American public life”. Their studies have found that post-2000, prime-time cable programming has become more subjective, abstract, and directive with a tendency for opinion-based shows led by pundits as opposed to news reporting-based programs.

SOURCE: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2960.html

Social Media

In today’s newsscape, a majority of people now go to social media for their news. But social media algorithms are designed to increase engagement, not educate or inform the public. This means prioritizing and even promoting sensationalist or misinformative content.

The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary that features the voices of technologists, researchers and activists working to align technology with the interests of humanity. VNN has partnered with creators of The Social Dilemma to bring you expert insight and recommendations on to combat the pitfalls of mainstream social media networks.

Click here to access the Tactical Tech + Mozilla’s Data Detox Kit.

3 tips from Tim Kendall on reclaiming your screen time:

  • UNDERSTAND YOUR USAGE: Most people think they use their phones a lot less than they do. A recent study found that the average person spends over 4 hours a day on their device, that’s a full quarter of their waking hours. And, given the increased time we’re spending inside to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that number is likely to now be higher. Use your phone’s built-in screentime app (Screentime on iPhone, Digital Wellbeing on Androids) or install the Moment app for additional tracking features.
  • SHUT OFF NOTIFICATIONS: 63. That’s the number of push notifications that studies suggest the average person gets each day. Just by turning off notifications, you can dramatically limit how these persuasive design techniques beckon you back to your phone while you’re in the middle of the rest of your life.
  • CREATE LIMITS: Finally, it’s now time to set some limits that will help you focus your usage on the apps, the times, and the spaces that will be most productive for you.
    • App limits – restricting how much time you spend with specific apps
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    • Time limits – refraining from using your phone during dinner or the first hour after waking up
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    • Room limits – not bringing your phone into spaces you want to keep sacred like your bedroom

Trust In News Media

What is the latest news in trust in news? Here are some highlights from a recent study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford:

  • Trust in news has eroded worldwide. According to the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2020, fewer than four in ten people (38%) across 40 markets say they typically trust most news (Newman et al. 2020).
  • Declining trust may be a significant barrier for citizens seeking to make informed political decisions and hold leaders accountable.
  • There is no single ‘trust in news’ problem, but rather multiple challenges involving both the supply of news and demand for information.Improving journalistic standards and practices may not improve trust if such efforts are not visible to users who come across news only fleetingly on social media.
  • Establishing trust online also requires grappling with forces whose influence platforms may have magnified (see Turcotte et al. 2015), namely non-journalists, including celebrities and politicians, and those seeking to deliberately spread lies.

SOURCE: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-12/Toff_et_al_Perspectives_on_Trust_in_News_FINAL.pdf

News Media Literacy

Media literacy is taught in journalism school, but few other places. Seeking out reliable sources of information can be tricky. Trusted lessons in news media literacy, specifically, can be even trickier to find.

Essentially, news media literacy is being able to identify different kinds of news media (ads vs. news stories, opinion vs. research), the message they are sending, who is sending it, and why.

The following tips break down how to be more news media literate on the elementary level:

  • Be skeptical, not cynical.
  • Understand different types of content.
  • Know the difference between fact and opinion.
  • Watch out for viral videos.
  • Think about bias and the concept of objectivity.
  • Interrogate the source.
  • Put the pieces together.

SOURCE: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/news-literacy-101

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