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Journalism and Platforms 2: Information, infomediation and fake news

24.06.2020 13:28 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Marseille, France

January 20-22, 2021

Deadline: July 3, 2020

The Mediteranean Institute of Information and Communication Sciences (IMSIC) & The Journalism and Communication School of Aix-Marseille (EJCAM) Aix-Marseille University

This colloquium is sponsored by SFSIC (French society of information and communication sciences).

Infomediation platforms (Smyrnaios, Rebillard, 2019) have become the dominant force of a ‘reintermediation’ of information online by organising a large variety of contents and making them available to internet users. Information from journalists, which we would qualify here as news, finds itself subject to exogenous imperatives which finish by influencing editorial decisions on information medias (Bell, Owen, 2017). This ‘platformisation’ of information online has coincided with an acceleration of the circulation of non-journalistic information besides news, from satire to disinformation, which increases the offer of contents proposed to internet users. In this open environment where journalistic productions, disinformation, click traps, infotainment and satire live together, journalism needs to rethink itself.

The aim of this conference is to explore new journalistic practices in relation to “fake news” at the heart of environments dominated by platforms. By “fake news”, and because the polysemy of the term has sometimes contributed to its instrumentalisation, we mean more precisely ‘information problems’ (Wardle, Derakhsan, 2019) in all their diversity.

As such, the conference will consider the question of fact-checking and the way it has been repositioned by criticising “fake news” (Bigot, 2019). Fact-checking has been called upon during electoral campaigns and is becoming increasingly part of a close relationship of collaboration and dependence between editors and web platforms which should be brought into question (Smyrnaios, Chauvet, Marty, 2017; Alloing, Vanderbiest, 2018). Over and above the current political situation, “fake news” on the subjects of health, the environment and even clickbait presenting false promises and strange revelations, questions the expert status of specialist journalists as well as other concerned parties.

Propositions should address the following four lines of research:

  • At the information source: media education in the face of the platforms
  • Fighting against “fake news”, a reaffirmation of journalism?
  • Political journalism and health journalism: the challenge of “fake news” to specialised journalists
  • Reception of false information and platforms: a reinforcement of cognitive biais?
At the information source: media education in the face of the platforms

“I saw it on Facebook”. This unequivocal statement from Reuters Institute (Kalogeropoulos, Newman, 2017) demonstrates the way digital environments have changed our relationship to information. The intermediary, in this case Facebook, is more powerful than traditional media as a source of memorised information, opening the door wide to “fake news” by rendering the different sources of information interchangeable. This deconstruction of the source, which journalists call upon and confront, which media use as a reliable source of information is renewing the historic inspiration of media studies. The necessity of a pedagogical attention to source, the one which we often consult via the intermediary of web platforms, overlaps on to understanding the logic of information production. The platforms also present themselves pedagogically when they contribute to highlighting the wheat and the chaff in all the content they host (Joux, 2018). However they are both advocates and judges, which explains why media studies is increasingly transforming into education on web platforms. What are the stakes created by the erasure of the source in the ecosystems where the platforms are dominating? What are the new relationships between information source and information as a source? What are the challenges for media studies?

Fighting against “fake news”, a reaffirmation of journalism?

Fact-checking has been experiencing an important development in publishing since the 2000’s (Bigot, 2017). The increased visibility of “fake news” has given it a new role since the beginning of the 2010’s. While dressing itself up as a social mission with obvious uses, fact-checking has restated the importance of journalism in producing news information in the public sphere. It has also criticised the illusion that anyone can be a journalist which the ease of internet sharing may have led us to hope for (Mathien, 2010). This reaffirmation of specific journalistic savoir-faire is supported differently by the platforms. Facebook, as well Google (through the CrossCheck project), finances publishing to check certain contents, which circulate in their ecosystem. However, this recognition of fact-checking by the platforms can be considered as ambivalent. If it relies on the education of internet users thanks to the visibility of journalistic work, it also corresponds to the imposition of priorities financed by the platforms in publishing. We propose to question these major themes here, fact-checking and its ambitions for journalism as well as the economic and editorial relationships between the platforms and newsrooms.

Political journalism and health journalism: the challenge of “fake news” to specialised journalists

Representing a ‘serious symptom of political breakdown’ (Mercier, 2018), the contemporary unfurling of “fake news” is being fed by a growing defiance to the position of the ‘knowledgeable’ elite which journalists belong to, whether they are ‘general’ or ‘specialist’. In two key information areas – politics and health-, areas which are connected to major collective stakes, the question of the transformation/adaptation of journalists’ professional practices is particularly important. Faced with this menace, is it sufficient to generalise the practices of fact-checking and to correct certain problematic practices (hurried treatments, insufficient verification, incomplete scientific acculturation, …) to restore a curtailed legitimacy? Is turning the discursive weapons employed by ‘post-truth’ (Dieguez, 2018) against it the best way to renew the codes and modes of expression of specialised journalism? Is it enough to remove the “barriers” to the exercise of the profession and organise it in a network (Bassoni, 2015), leaning now on the practices of all the parties concerned by the containment of “fake news” (in this case, in health, the health authorities, scientists, carers, patients and “digital opinion leaders”)?

Reception of false information and platforms: a reinforcement of cognitive bias?

If the proliferation of fake news is linked to the technical and economic conditions of information circulation, it also relies on cognitive domains which do not always promote the truth and forms of reception attached to plural contexts. Recognised cognitive biases frequently lead individuals to select and believe false information to encourage consensus within a group (Festinger, 1954) or through an economy of means (Kahneman, 2011). Social illusionism and the illusion of truth can thus favour the propagation of false information (Huguet, 2018). Indeed, individuals perceive “fake-news” as one of the elements of the globally degraded universe of information, including forms of propaganda or mediocre journalism (Nielsen et Graves, 2017). Here, the public’s perception of “fake news” is the combination of the interests of certain medias which publish it, politicians who contribute to it and the platforms who allow it to be distributed. What are the characteristics of the public’s reception of “fake news”? What type of individual or collective sources does “fake news” call upon? How far can platforms and their business models reinforce the cognitive biases associated to “fake news”? These questions will be approached by considering the modalities of the public’s reception of “fake news” through their permanence or, on the contrary, their variation according to contexts.

How to submit

Propositions should be 6000 characters and include a short biography. They will indicate which research theme they are most appropriate to. Descriptions of the field of study/corpus and the research methodology are expected.

Propositions should be sent to the following address:

The deadline is July 3, 2020

Propositions will be double blind evaluated, replies will be sent out during September 2020.

Scientific committee

  • Amiel Pauline (IMSIC, Aix Marseille Université)
  • Bousquet Franck (Lerass, Université Paul Sabatier – Toulouse 3)
  • Cabrolié Stéphane (IMSIC, Aix Marseille Université)
  • Graves Lucas (University of Wisconsin – Madison)
  • Grevisse Benoît (MiiL, UC Louvain)
  • Jeanne-Perrier Valérie (GRIPIC, Paris Sorbonne)
  • Jenkins Joy (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford)
  • Joux Alexandre (IMSIC, Aix Marseille Université)
  • Mercier Arnaud (CARISM, Université Paris 2)
  • Pignard-Cheynel Nathalie (Université de Neuchatel)
  • Sebbah Brigitte (Lerass, Université Paul Sabatier – Toulouse 3)
  • Smyrnaios Nikos (Lerass, Université Paul Sabatier – Toulouse 3)
  • Vovou Ioanna (ICCA Sorbonne Nouvelle, Université Panteion, Athens)

Organization team

  • Coordination : Joux Alexandre (IMSIC) & Amiel Pauline (IMSIC)
  • Bassoni Marc (IMSIC)
  • Belgacem Fetta (IMSIC)
  • Cabrolié Stéphane (IMSIC)
  • Cappuccio Alexia (IMSIC)
  • D’Aiguillon Benoît (IMSIC)
  • Lukasik Stéphanie (IMSIC)
  • Pélissier Maud (IMSIC)

Alloing C., Vanderbiest N. (2018), « La fabrique des rumeurs numériques. Comment la fausse information circule sur Twitter ? », Le Temps des médias, 30(1), 105-123.

Bassoni M. (2015), « Journalisme scientifique et public-expert contributeur. Une « nouvelle donne » dans les pratiques du journalisme spécialisé ? », Questions de communication, série actes 25 (sous la direction de Ph. Chavot et A. Masseran), Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 179-189.

Bell E., Owen T. (2017), The Platform Press. How Silicon Valley reengineered Journalism, Columbia Journalism School, Tow Center for Journalism.

Bigot L. (2017), « Le fact-checking ou la réinvention d’une pratique de vérification », Communication & Langages, 2, n°192, 131-156.

Bigot L. (2019), Fact checking versus fake news : vérifier pour mieux informer, Paris : INA Editions.

Dieguez S. (2018), Total Bullshit ! Au cœur de la post-vérité, Paris : Presses universitaires de France.

Festinger L. (1954), « A theory of social comparison processes », Human Relations, 7, 117-140.

Huguet P. (2018), « Eléments de psychologie des fake news », in L’information d’actualité au prisme des fake news, Paris : L’Harmattan, 201-222.

Joux A., Pélissier M. (2018), L’information d’actualité au prisme des fake news, Paris : L’Harmattan.

Joux A. (2018), « Des dispositifs contre les fake news : du rôle des rédactions et des plateformes », in L’information d’actualité au prisme des fake news, Paris : L’Harmattan, 73-93.

Kahneman D. (2011), Thinking, fast and slow, London : Penguin.

Kalogeropoulos A., Newman N. (2017), ‘I saw the News on Facebook’. Brand Attribution when Accessing News from Distributed Environments, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University.

Mathien M. (2010), « “ Tous journalistes ! ” Les professionnels de l’information face à un mythe des nouvelles technologies »,Quaderni, 72, 113-125.

Mercier A. (2018), Fake news et post-vérité : 20 textes pour comprendre la menace, The Conversation France/e-book, (hal-01819233).

Nielsen K. R., Graves L. (2017), News you don’t believe: audience perspectives on fake news, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University.

Smyrnaios N., Chauvet S., Marty E. (2017) L’impact de CrossCheck sur les journalistes et les publics, First Draft

Smyrnaios N., Rebillard F. (2019), « How infomediation platforms took over the news: a longitudinal perspective », The Political economy of communication, vol. 7/1, 30-50.

Wardle C., Derakhsan H. (2017) Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making, Strasbourg: Council of Europe



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