We caught up with the founder of media watchdog Ad Fontes and creator of the Media Bias Chart ahead of the election to discuss news ratings, trust in the media and “junk food.”

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Leading up to the 2020 election, we’re putting out a special interview series in which we’ll talk with leading experts about misinformation, censorship, fact-checking, and plenty more.

For the final installment, we (virtually) sat down with Vanessa Otero, the founder of Ad Fontes Media, Inc., and creator of the Media Bias Chart. She’s a patent attorney by day, but her work with Ad Fontes has taken off as more people find themselves looking for credible sources and information they can trust amid an increasingly daunting infodemic.

Here’s what she had to say.

JM: You are the CEO of Ad Fontes…


It’s not a “her” issue. You have a voice too, so use it.

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My wife and I in Grand Rapids last month, celebrating our pregnancy with a silly photoshoot.

When my wife and I woke up on Oct. 21, we were pregnant.

Three hours later, we were not.

We had an appointment for our 10-week ultrasound, so we went in expecting to get our first glimpse at our son or daughter-to-be.

Instead, what we got was…blank. So we waited for something other than blank. I looked up at the screen at the medical center — through it, rather — keeping my presumptions on a tight leash.

After all, anyone who’s ever seen a live ultrasound knows it’s like trying to solve a puzzle with your eyes. “Is that it…


We caught up with the media bias expert to discuss transparency in the media and the importance of balancing out your newsfeed.

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Leading up to the 2020 election, we’re chatting with leading experts about misinformation, censorship, fact-checking, and plenty more.

For the third installment of our interview series, we (virtually) sat down with John Gable, the founder and CEO of AllSides, which uses media bias ratings to provide balanced news and perspectives on issues across the political spectrum. He often writes about bias, news media, polarization, and how technology impacts these things.

Here’s what he had to say.

You guys developed the Media Bias Chart to help increase transparency and help news consumers get the full picture and find the truth. …


We caught up with the BBC’s disinformation reporter to discuss the power and pull of conspiracies, especially amid a pandemic.

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Leading up to the 2020 election, we’re chatting with leading experts about misinformation, censorship, fact-checking, and plenty more.

For the second installment of our interview series, we (virtually) sat down with Shayan Sardarizadeh, a BBC reporter who covers disinformation. Since the pandemic began, most of his work has centered on QAnon, a sprawling system of conspiratorial beliefs that’s exploded in popularity in recent months.

Here’s what he had to say.

JM: QAnon has kind of been the holy grail for conspiracy groups over the past year, particularly since the start of the pandemic. It seems like their groups are engaged…


We caught up with the First Amendment expert to discuss COVID-19, censorship, and the importance of getting your news from more than one place.

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Leading up to the 2020 election, we’re putting out a special interview series in which we’ll talk with leading experts about misinformation, censorship, fact-checking, and plenty more.

For the first installment, we (virtually) sat down with Gene Policinski.

Policinski is the senior fellow for the First Amendment for Freedom Forum. He’s a veteran multimedia journalist, who writes and lectures regularly on First Amendment issues. He was also a Founding Editor of the USA Today.

We caught up with him via Zoom from his office in Indiana. Here’s what he had to say.

Gene, to start us off, do you mind…


I know — your Uncle Rick’s a flat-Earther and he voted for Kanye. But hear me out.

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We’ve all seen pictures of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch at this point, right? It’s a collection of marine debris in the ocean that’s more than twice the size of Texas. And what’s crazy is it’s rapidly collecting more plastic every day.

Oddly enough, some days, that’s what I think of when I scroll through my Facebook or Twitter feed. Only, instead of broken-down microplastics, it’s a digital trash vortex made up of false claims, hoaxes, misquotes, conspiracy theories, and doctored images — likewise growing more difficult to clean up every day.

But alas, we must work together to clean…


Stop, corroborate, and fact check.

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You see an interesting article on social media.

What do you do?

Do you share it immediately? Do you click through to read it first?

With unprecedented amounts of misinformation online, it’s never been more important to stop and think for a moment before we share content, lest we become unwitting peddlers of said misinformation ourselves.

When we do share false or misleading content, one of two things can happen: we either weaken our circle of influence (our friends and family members mute us or unfollow us and gradually begin to discredit everything we post)…


“6% Mel” perfectly encapsulates the state of the infodemic.

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A Twitter user known as “Mel Q,” a peddler of the QAnon conspiracy theory, sent out a misleading tweet about COVID-19 numbers that was vastly retweeted, including by President Trump.

You’ve probably seen this play out on social media more than a handful of times over the past few months: Someone with a sizable following starts a fire online. Someone with an even bigger following spreads the fire. And in swoops big tech with a tidal wave of censorship to “save the day.”

If only.

You don’t have to dig too far into our history to find a pertinent example.

It’s only Monday, and we’ve already got a textbook case from this week.

Twitter user “Mel Q,” a peddler of the QAnon and PizzaGate conspiracy theories, posted a tweet, claiming…


We caught up with the former CIA analyst and disinformation expert to discuss her new book, “True or False,” censorship vs. labeling content, and why fake news is an “all of us” problem.

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Cindy L. Otis with her new book, “True or False,” a CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News” (Photo courtesy Cindy L. Otis)

What do you picture when you hear “CIA analyst?” Someone like Jack Ryan, nonchalantly walking away from an explosion as he puts on his sunglasses?

When Cindy L. Otis started working for the Agency, she too had glamorized notions of secret agents and spies. But she quickly learned her work was about something much more important: discovering the truth.

It was her duty to keep senior government officials informed about current events across the world. To do that, she had to comb through a torrent of information on terrorist attacks, wars and foreign policy from a vast number of sources.

Jared McKiernan

Editor/Co-Founder of Our.News + Freelancer

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