Why This Newsstand Displayed Fake News Headlines

Ahead of the midterm elections, Columbia Journalism Review staged a "Fake News Stand" on a busy New York street to educate passersby on how to spot misinformation.

By Ian Zelaya November 5, 2018, 7:02 AM EST

Columbia Journalism Review's "Fake News Stand" was staged October 30 near New York's Bryant Park. The pop-up was stocked with publications that resembled actual magazines and newspapers but featured fake news headlines plucked from the Internet.

Photo: T.B.W.A./Chiat/Day New York

With the U.S. midterm elections happening Tuesday, the ability to spot misinformation in the news might be more important than ever. And according to an Ipsos Public Affairs survey, fake news headlines fool American adults around 75 percent of the time.

To expose the dangers and prevalence of misinformation in news, and to educate people on how to recognize it, Columbia Journalism Review staged a “Fake News Stand” on a crowded street corner next to New York's Bryant Park. The stand was stocked with magazines and newspapers that looked real—one titled The Hour resembled Time magazine, for instance—but featured false headlines plucked straight from the Internet.

The pop-up, which took place October 30, was produced by the magazine in partnership with creative agency T.B.W.A./Chiat/Day New York. Publication covers displayed headlines of false stories that went viral, including stories about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a two-headed shark, and a toddler fight club.

Brand ambassadors encouraged passersby to take a closer look at the publications on the newsstand, and were then handed a Columbia Journalism Review reader’s guide with tips on how to spot misinformation and stats about the spreading of misinformation in the media. 

The daylong pop-up was inspired by Columbia Journalism Review’s “Real Journalism Matters” advertising campaign, which debuted in The New York Times earlier this year.

“We embarked on this initiative to help people spot disinformation,” said Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review. “For the first time, we’re taking false stories from the digital space into the physical space and placing it directly in the hands of real people. It makes these stories tangible in a way that forces you to think about the source of the information.”

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