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The Anatomy of Fake News: A Critical News Literacy Education

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Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, concerns about fake news have fostered calls for government regulation and industry intervention to mitigate the influence of false content. These proposals are hindered by a lack of consensus concerning the definition of fake news or its origins. Media scholar Nolan Higdon contends that expanded access to critical media literacy education, grounded in a comprehensive history of fake news, is a more promising solution. The Anatomy of Fake News offers the first historical examination of fake news for the purpose of creating effective critical news literacy. Higdon employs a critical-historical media ecosystems approach to identify the producers, themes, purposes, and influences of fake news. The findings are incorporated into an invaluable fake news detection kit. This much-needed resource provides a rich history and a promising set of pedagogical strategies for mitigating the pernicious influence of fake news.

What People Are Saying About “The Anatomy of Fake News”

“This book gives crucial insight into the fake news phenomenon and dissociation from reality in the Trump era. It is an important contribution to the fight for media literacy.”—Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files

“A first-rate introduction to the subject, and a strong contribution to the field of media literacy and media studies.”—Robert McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication,University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

“Higdon illuminates what fake news seeks to hide and offers educators and students a way to challenge its destructive force and learn to create authentic discursive spaces where we can all thrive.”—Robin Andersen, Professor of Communications and Media Studies, Fordham University

“This adept history provides clear resources for readers to make their own news analysis more active and better informed.”—Allison Butler, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Description

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, concerns about fake news have fostered calls for government regulation and industry intervention to mitigate the influence of false content. These proposals are hindered by a lack of consensus concerning the definition of fake news or its origins. Media scholar Nolan Higdon contends that expanded access to critical media literacy education, grounded in a comprehensive history of fake news, is a more promising solution. The Anatomy of Fake News offers the first historical examination of fake news for the purpose of creating effective critical news literacy. Higdon employs a critical-historical media ecosystems approach to identify the producers, themes, purposes, and influences of fake news. The findings are incorporated into an invaluable fake news detection kit. This much-needed resource provides a rich history and a promising set of pedagogical strategies for mitigating the pernicious influence of fake news.

Dr. Nolan Higdon is an author and university lecturer of history and media studies. Higdon’s areas of concentration include youth culture, news media history, and critical media literacy. He sits on the boards of the Action Coalition for Media Education and Northwest Alliance For Alternative Media And Education. His most recent publications include The Anatomy of Fake News from University of California Press (2020) and United States of Distraction with Mickey Huff from City Lights Publishers (2019). He is co-host of the Along the Line podcast with “Dr. Dreadlocks” Nicholas Baham III, and a longtime contributor to Project Censored’s annual book, Censored. In addition, he has been a contributor to Truthout and Counter-punch; and a guest commentator for The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and numerous television news outlets.

“In The Anatomy of Fake News (UC Press), media scholar Nolan Higdon deftly lays out the long history of so-called fake news and its impact on society. While much has been written on the topic of fake news and disinformation in the past few years, this is the first single volume to adequately cover such broad topical terrain, including historical context and theoretically backed deconstruction of the challenges we face regarding our information systems and journalistic institutions. At the same time Higdon illustrates the myriad examples of how we are in a bipartisan information war over ideas where elite groups vie for control of the public mind, he also focuses on critical news media literacy and supplies readers with a fake news detection kit– sharing numerous resources to help us all be our own fact checkers and arbiters of what is and is not real news. This book could not be more timely or relevant as a vehicle to better understand our mediated misinformation society and counsel us about what we can do to become a more media and civically literate society. An ideal textbook for critical thinking and media studies courses that is useful across the curriculum in higher education yet widely accessible for the general reading public.”

– Professor Mickey Huff, co-chair of history and chair of journalism at Diablo Valley College; director of Project Censored and president of the Media Freedom Foundation

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