What role will fake news play in our democracy? Even as we celebrate World News Day and recognize the important role Journalism plays in our lives, this question weighs on the minds of Canadians as we prepare to head to the polls in the fall.
40% of Canadians report finding it difficult to distinguish between truth and misinformation in the news, according to a new poll commissioned by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (with research conducted by Earnscliffe Strategy Group). It also shows that more than half of respondents (53%) have come across stories recently where they believe facts were twisted to push an agenda.
Looking to address concerns over Canadians’ capacity to identify authoritative information online, today the Google News Initiative announced a grant of $1 million to the Canadian Journalism Foundation to bring NewsWise to voting-age Canadians. The goal is simple: help all Canadians understand the difference between fact-based journalism and fake news in the digital world.
The project will support Canadian publishers in educating their audiences on how to understand and navigate an increasingly complex information environment. Developed in collaboration with experts and educators, NewsWise will deliver journalistic context that can help Canadian citizens gauge the reliability of the information they're consuming.
NewsWise builds on the success of its namesake student news literacy program, launched last year by the CJF and CIVIX (the team behind Student Vote). NewsWise is already reaching students in 98 of Canadian school boards.
Google and CJF’s commitment to fact-based journalism comes at a pivotal time for Canada. When asked if this confusion is leading people to not know which politicians to trust, 85% strongly agreed or agreed; up from 56 per cent in 2018. When asked if the average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumors and falsehood, 74% strongly agreed or agreed; compared to 63% last year. The stakes are high.
Understanding what’s real and what’s not when it comes to the information we consume is essential to a functioning democracy. NewsWise provides Canadians the tools to be engaged and informed citizens of the digital age.