Scientific journalism: publishing theory and techniques

Expose, fact-check, media literacyTrust in the scientific community and curiosity are the cures to fight fake news and get out of the only interactions consistent with our thinking. It is possible that one breaks from the vicious circle where social networks, born as playful advertising tools and not with the aim of disseminating information, try to keep the user inside as much as possible to obtain useful data to promote the approximation of the contents. for their interests.

This is a reflection axis Alessandro Tavecchio, a biologist and member of the Communication Unit Sesa Trieste and author of the lesson “Bad Information: How It Works and the Role of Social Media” in Feltrinelli’s Education Course on Science Journalism and Publishing Techniques.

The role of the press was to decide, thanks to criteria of publication merit, which news should reach the collective public consciousness. Today, the advent of the Internet has lowered fixed editing costs, and we could have seen a gradual decline in this task, giving readers direct access to information. The shared reality that has always characterized the media presents small cracks: today he is a very personal person, where everything that appears before the eyes of users is the result of a set of data and the movements we make when we are online

The thinking of Alessandro Tavecchio invites us to go beyond trivialities, to overcome the problem of recognizing fake news. In his lecture, Alessandro Tavecchio analyzes how the topic of bad information, for at least 10 years, has been grouped with the term “fake news”, corresponding to the Italian “media hoax”. This is a very vague term, and by it we mean a bunch of different things. With this illegitimate use, a distinction is made between the problems of disinformation caused by fake news between “disinformation”, in which unintended errors appear, “disinformation”, where the desire to harm someone lies, and “disinformation”, where the information is . He was intentionally manipulated to create a scandal and attract more clicks on his web page link.

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An example of misinformation came from the case of the wasp killer in Italy. In fact, the photo circulating on the network was a mandarin wasp, not found in Europe, while, on the contrary, the species suitable for reporting was the phyllotina wasp.

The scandal that was instead born around Snow White’s unsatisfactory kiss, owes all its luck to exploiting the news, creating what has been defined as misinformation and, at the same time, disinformation. From a review of the San Francisco Gate by two journalists at a California park at Disneyland, the note was inserted into a broader context, the context of cultural abolition, becoming an excuse to stir up controversy that already exists in the media landscape.

Finally, the birth of humorous content related to “Gateway to Russia” fueled hyper-narrative, under which Russia interfered in the election campaign for the US presidential election in 2016. This example of misinformation wanted to create emotional reactions during political propaganda. These mechanisms are typical of social networks, which are tools that were originally created for entertainment purposes, but nowadays they represent distinct channels for the use of information. It is precisely because of this new reality that the spread of fake news has become a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly frequent and with faster spread rates.

“We tend to believe what is presented to us when it confirms our preconceptions, but there are several ways to improve the quality of the information being circulated. Those who do “debunking” try to show the falsity of certain news, but it will not work very well for those who already have well-designed ideas. In general, “fact-checking,” checking facts and data, especially from influential people, should not be the responsibility of journalists alone, but of anyone who creates or shares content on the web.Finally, media literacy is important: real education about consumer consumption media, encouraging us to ask ourselves questions and interest in the information we receive every day; there is no way that can give us certainty of the correctness of what we are exposed to. For this reason, it is necessary to cultivate a natural curiosity. We all (or almost all) say we believe in the scientific community, but after That we choose to listen only to the sounds that give us affirmation.Going beyond the trivialities and scratching of the surface of the news that we are used to scrolling on social media pages is essential not only to the correct use of the media, but helps us to approach Truth and different points of view. Tavecchio explains.

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The in-depth study is one of the four topics covered in the Science Journalism live course: Theory and Publishing Techniques of Feltrinelli Education, which also includes interventions by Marina D’Alessandro, Nico Pitrelli and Donato Ramani in which decision-making processes are explored in the face of uncertainty What are the dynamics behind misinformation and the essential role of scientific communication in making the best decisions at the collective level. The course consists of 3 live lessons, a practical exercise in 2 sessions and a final meeting where you can compare yourself to the experts in a question and answer session, for a total duration of 10 hours. The course is limited, registration is already open and lessons will take place from Tuesday 05 October to Tuesday 09 November 2021.

With its live and on-demand courses and labs, Feltrinelli Education responds to the needs of digital transformation, creates true meaning for books, and presents moments of culture and entertainment, opening the way to a new way of working in the school.

Maggie Benson

"Bacon trailblazer. Certified coffee maven. Zombie lover. Tv specialist. Freelance communicator."

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