The Harvard Shorenstein News Leaders Summit brings together news executives to tackle an immediate threat facing democracy and the news ecosystem: misinformation at scale.
The scourge of misinformation threatens the very foundations of the news media. It is journalists who must be the bulwark against this rising and continuously flowing tide, and it is the leaders of news organizations who must convey to their staff the primacy of this problem. The Harvard Shorenstein News Leaders Summit brings these leaders together to develop best practices that the industry can uphold to protect the information ecosystem from the corrosive forces of misinformation.
At the Shorenstein Center, our research into misinformation shows that journalists are crucial to fighting this problem, but are also uniquely vulnerable to accidentally accelerating it. The Media Manipulation life cycle model, developed by Dr. Joan Donovan and the Technology and Social Change project, shows that when manipulators attempt to hijack the public’s attention with falsehoods, it is the decisions made by reporters and editors that can make all the difference. How a story is framed, when it is reported on, the words leading a headline — all of these choices made quickly and on deadline have ripple effects throughout the information ecosystem, and can mean the difference between a lie that’s dead on arrival, and “Stop the Steal” — a lie so big it nearly broke democracy.
Newsrooms must develop protocols and systems to allow journalists to easily make the right choices when it comes to how and when to cover misinformation, and how to avoid being hoaxed by disinformation. But it is unreasonable to ask every journalist to be steeped in the research into how propaganda works and how technology is changing and amplifying it. So, we at the Shorenstein Center have created this program to arm leaders from across the country with best practices tailored to the specific needs of their newsrooms.
The Shorenstein Center News Leaders program brings together small cohorts of press leaders to tackle the problem of misinformation-at-scale and media manipulation. Over the course of a semester, the News Leaders work with one another, and with Shorenstein Center faculty and staff, including Director Nancy Gibbs, Research Director Dr. Joan Donovan, Dr. Rob Faris, and journalist Emily Dreyfuss, to develop procedures and protocols to handle this threat to the media ecosystem and the functioning of democracy.
Meet the News Leaders Cohorts: