How did misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election and has anything changed since? A new study of more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 misinformation and conspiracy news outlets answers this question.

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  • Article

    How young people, the future guardians of our laws and rights, feel about free speech

    December 6, 2018 by Olivier Kamanda

    How young people, the future guardians of our laws and rights, feel about free speech

    Photo by wiredforlego on Flickr.

    Olivier Kamanda is director for learning and impact strategy at Knight Foundation. 


    High school may be a tumultuous time, but it’s also when many of us first start to define not only who we are but also our beliefs about our community and our country. Understanding high school student views on the First Amendment, and, in particular, the essential freedoms of free press and free expression, is then vital to anticipating how future generations may interpret and support these rights.

  • Article

    Seven ways high-school student views on free speech are changing

    December 5, 2018 by Knight Foundation

    Seven ways high-school student views on free speech are changing

    As concerns over free speech, declining trust in news and the impact of misinformation surge, a new report explores how high-school students’ attitudes about the First Amendment are evolving and what that means for the future of our democracy.

  • Article

    Why influence matters in the spread of misinformation

    November 20, 2018 by Becca Lewis

    Why influence matters in the spread of misinformation

    Photo by Edward Musiak on Flickr.

    Becca Lewis is a Ph.D student in communications working at Data & Society. Below she writes about findings from a recent Knight report that explored how misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election. 

    If you start paying attention to the issue of online disinformation, you will start to hear a lot about the role of “influence.” Most notably, media outlets have done widespread reporting on Russia’s so-called “influence campaigns,” meant to impact U.S. elections. But “influence” is an important online phenomenon more generally. If you use Instagram, for example, you almost certainly have encountered “brand influencers,” who build devoted audiences and then attempt to sell them products and services. Influence, then, is a crucial phenomenon online: it means having a powerful voice and using that voice to have an impact, whether political or commercial.

  • Article

    Building a movement for trusted nonprofit journalism

    November 1, 2018 by Karen Rundlet

    Building a movement for trusted nonprofit journalism

    Photo credit: Sabrina Sanchez.

    Karen Rundlet is director for journalism at Knight Foundation. Below she writes about NewsMatch, the annual national matching gifts campaign for nonprofit news organizations, which is accepting donations today through Dec. 31. 

    This is the third year for NewsMatch, the national matching-gift campaign that supports nonprofit organizations across the country. The campaign’s participants, all of them nonprofit newsrooms, produce rigorous journalism in service of the public. It is in all of our interests to support them, now more than ever. As misinformation runs rampant, and trust in media fall to all-time lows, these organizations are delivering the investigative, accountability and civic reporting that highlight pressing community issues and hold our leaders in check. While the tools of information creation and delivery have changed dramatically in the last decade, there are some constants: quality journalism remains a powerful tool for change and a free and independent press is vital to a healthy democracy.

  • Article

    Embracing digital, some TV stations are filling gaps in local news

    October 22, 2018 by Katti Gray

    Embracing digital, some TV stations are filling gaps in local news

    “The State of Local News“ forum at the Paley Center. Photo by Karen Rundlet.

    Even as local newspapers steadily close, the audiences and profits for some local TV stations are growing. That’s in part because local stations are tailoring news packaging and delivery to the preferences of younger and other digital-first news consumers, said newsroom leaders at this week’s “The State of Local News“ forum in New York City.

  • Article

    As news deserts expand, new approaches to local news are taking root

    October 16, 2018 by Karen Rundlet

    As news deserts expand, new approaches to local news are taking root

    If news and information are part of the fabric of democracy, then the fabric of U.S. democracy is in tatters. That’s the conclusion that leaps off the map in the 2018 The Expanding News Deserts report, which shows that 171 U.S. counties do not have a local newspaper, and nearly half all counties – 1,449 – have only one newspaper, usually a weekly.

    The report by Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, shines the light on a silent phenomenon, the disappearance of 1,800 newspapers since 2004, and drop by half of the number of reporters covering local news. 

  • Article

    Why combatting fake news requires people and technology — working together

    October 11, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Why combatting fake news requires people and technology — working together

    A map reflecting Twitter activity surrounding fake and conspiracy news stories among the most followed accounts around the 2016 presidential election. Read "Disinformation, 'Fake News' and Influencer Campaigns on Twitter."

    Concerns about the spread of misinformation online have raced into crisis mode.

  • Article

    Why Knight Foundation is investing in a new field of study on informed society in a digital age

    October 1, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Why Knight Foundation is investing in a new field of study on informed society in a digital age

    Strong democracies depend on freedom of expression and access to accurate information about community and public affairs. This is as true today as when freedom of the press was enshrined by the framers of the U.S. Constitution in the first correction they made to the governing principles of our country — what we call the First Amendment.

  • Article

    What we need to know to improve diversity in newsrooms

    September 26, 2018 by LaSharah Bunting

    What we need to know to improve diversity in newsrooms

    News organizations have come to understand this important truth: a deep relationship with readers leads to improved trust, stronger journalism and sustainable business. Yet that authentic connection can be difficult to establish when newsroom leaders and staff don’t reflect the communities they serve.

    Diversity in newsrooms is among the biggest challenges facing the industry, yet the commitment to tackling this problem is often insufficient or nonexistent. News organizations can’t begin to offer viable solutions if they don’t fully understand, or acknowledge, the extent and scope of the problem. And, as journalists know, to thoroughly interpret any important issue, you must begin with the data.

    Last week the American Society of News Editors announced it was extending the deadline to Oct. 12 for its annual newsroom diversity survey because only 234 out of nearly 1,700 newspapers and digital media outlets responded to the request to submit data this year. In response, Knight Foundation joined Ford Foundation, Democracy Fund, Lenfest Institute and many other funders in releasing a joint statement calling on newsrooms to respond with urgency and submit their employment data. These foundations also announced they will now require annual completion of the ASNE survey for journalism grantees going forward. 

  • Article

    Should platforms be regulated? A new survey says yes.

    August 15, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Should platforms be regulated? A new survey says yes.

    In the two years since the 2016 election, the role major social media and technology companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter play in enabling (or corroding) an informed society has become an issue of increasing concern.

    It is well known at this stage that these platforms are a key destination for news. They regularly make decisions about who gets to provide information and who gets to see it. But as misinformation infects newsfeeds, and information echo chambers become the norm, should there be rules that govern their role as news editors?

    A new survey says yes — almost eight in 10 Americans agree that these companies should be subject to the same rules and regulations as newspapers and television networks that are responsible for the content they publish. The survey is part of a series of reports released by Knight Foundation and Gallup over the course of the year exploring American perceptions of trust, media and democracy.

  • Article

    Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative announces $750,000 challenge on news and information quality

    August 6, 2018 by Tim Hwang and Paul Cheung

    Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative announces $750,000 challenge  on news and information quality

    We’re excited to announce that next month, we will launch an open call for ideas aimed at shaping the influence artificial intelligence (AI) has on the field of news and information. The challenge asks an overarching question: How might we ensure that the use of artificial intelligence in the news ecosystem be done ethically and in the public interest?

  • Article

    How can democracy thrive in the digital age?

    July 30, 2018 by Sam Gill

    How can democracy thrive in the digital age?

    Photo by ydant on Flickr.

    In the wake of revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly used Facebook data to influence the 2016 election, scrutiny of the social media giant continues. In the past month, Facebook has been hit with information requests from an alphabet soup of federal agencies ­— the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    But the issue is about more than Facebook and has implications beyond breaches and rights to privacy. We’re experiencing a sea change in our relationship to a relatively small set of companies. Just a few brands — Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon — occupy many of our waking hours.

    They are where most of us entertain ourselves. They are where we meet and converse with friends. They are how many of us shop. They are where political debate is happening. The reality is that it’s harder and harder to transact our social, commercial and political lives in any kind of “offline” fashion.

    This matters for our democracy. The way we inform ourselves about public affairs has moved from the morning paper and evening news to a constant stream of mobile alerts. Political debates have shifted from in-person affairs to pseudonymous shouting matches. Our expectations for government and other institutions have shifted to an internet standard — any service that doesn’t deliver with Amazon Prime or Netflix levels of instantaneity is frustrating and obsolete.

  • Article

    Reinventing a 97-year-old science news organization

    July 11, 2018 by Nancy Shute

    Reinventing a 97-year-old science news organization

    Photo by Society for Science & the Public.

    Four years ago, Science News was on the ropes. It was founded by newspaper magnate E.W. Scripps in 1921 to provide accurate news of science, technology and medicine to the general public. But over the past decade, Science News had lost millions of dollars. Print circulation was shrinking, ad sales were dismal, and the organization’s digital operations were starved for resources despite growing audiences.

  • Article

    How Americans really feel about the media

    June 20, 2018 by David Askenazi

    How Americans really feel about the media

    “Trust in media at all-time lows” is a headline we have, unfortunately, become accustomed to. As a foundation that cares about creating more informed and engaged communities, it’s also unacceptable. So earlier this year, Knight Foundation, as part of a larger initiative, partnered with Gallup to look at Americans’ changing opinions of the Fourth Estate.