Prince Harry & the Aspen Institute release their report on misinformation

Royal visit to Africa - Day Five

On Monday, the Aspen Institute released their report on the “misinformation crisis,” a report with contributions from Prince Harry. Harry was part of the commission looking at how we got to this place of global misinformation and toxic internet culture, and the group gave fifteen recommendations for how to combat the crisis. You can read the Archewell post on the subject here, and you can read the full Aspen Institute report here.

Prince Harry has described online misinformation as a “global humanitarian issue” that needs to be tackled by policies including investment in local journalism and cracking down on super-spreaders of false content. The Duke of Sussex contributed to a report by a US thinktank into disinformation, which made 15 recommendations after a six-month study.

Publicising the report on the website for Archewell, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s charitable foundation, Harry described the “mis- and disinformation crisis” as a global humanitarian issue. Harry was a member of the commission on information disorder at the Aspen Institute, a US thinktank.

He added: “I hope to see the substantive and practical recommendations of our commission taken up by the tech industry, the media industry, by policymakers, and leaders. This affects not some of us, but all of us.”

The 15 recommendations from the report, which was written by three co-chairs on the commission including the TV journalist Katie Couric, focus on the US and include “substantial” investment in local journalism; more diverse workforces at social media companies; holding misinformation super-spreaders to account; and creating a US government “national response strategy” for tackling misinformation.

Harry was one of 15 commissioners on the report who contributed via research and working groups. Other commissioners included Kathryn Murdoch, co-founder of the Quadrivium Foundation along with her husband, James Murdoch – the youngest son of media tycoon Rupert.

“Information disorder makes any health crisis more deadly. It slows down our response time on climate change,” the report said. “It undermines democracy. It creates a culture in which racist, ethnic, and gender attacks are seen as solutions, not problems. Today, mis- and disinformation have become a force multiplier for exacerbating our worst problems as a society. Hundreds of millions of people pay the price, every single day, for a world disordered by lies.”

[From The Guardian]

Investment in local journalism is something very important, but it’s difficult given the larger corporate buyouts of local TV stations and smaller newspapers. Most local newspapers are owned by big media chains, and TV stations become “Fox affiliates” or “NBC affiliates” and they adopt the political culture of those corporations. There are too few truly independent local or national media outlets here in America. Rupert Murdoch owns the New York Post AND the Wall Street Journal, you know?

Britain's Prince Harry visits the Silverstone circuit in Towcester

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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28 Responses to “Prince Harry & the Aspen Institute release their report on misinformation”

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  1. OriginalLala says:

    Interesting that Murdoch’s youngest son was part of this report, they really have their fingers in all aspects of media, don’t they?

  2. Merricat says:

    We need to break up the media monopoly. The best job I’ve ever had was with a small, privately owned weekly paper.

    • Eurydice says:

      Yes, this. And I remember when the TV networks put their news departments under the entertainment divisions – right away, the measurements of success changed.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ Eurydice, as Faux news is listed as, which in reality is a lie. Let’s face it, if governments and law makers aren’t going to tow the amount of dis/misinformation, we have no hope of closing in the loopholes of insanity. But most of them have NO desire to do so because they rely on these conglomerates for political donations. I think we need to revoke Citizens United policy first. Politicians have no business being bought by corporations and their owners. As well as lobbyist too!

        The Houston Post was bought and closed by its competitor about 30+ years ago. It was the end of balanced journalism, which has been repeated across the country in a great number of major metropolitan cities. We have to have a balance and there must be consequences for the spoken and spreading of lies.

        Great news today is that Alex Jones is still liable for his lies in regards to the Sandy Hook shooting, so it’s going to the penalty faze now. I am so happy about this!!

    • Nina says:

      Agreed. I was a daily newspaper journalist for the first half of my career, and there is no more effective reality check than having reporters on the street covering the cities and towns they live in. We used to mock the TV reporters who basically read the paper and rewrote the stories we had reported without giving us any credit – they were ‘talent’ but didn’t have a clue about how to navigate and find public records or cover a city council meeting. But the business model changed and the advertisers who essentially paid our expenses found other places to put their money. Hence, the paywall and accompanying outrage – readers have never before been the primary source of income for a media outlet.
      Today, I think most people watch TV news and have a vague idea of what’s going on “out there” somewhere, but rarely get the kind of view of their own local government that I used to provide by covering ten or twelve meetings – school committee, planning board, city council, you name it – per week. It disengages them by removing the daily reminders of how local government actually functions.
      The local weeklies have picked up a LOT of the slack, but they can’t afford to pay much, so their staffs are typically young and inexperienced.
      Also, Rupert Murdoch has ALWAYS been evil. He took the sensational tabloid format to the next level decades ago, and we are now seeing the impact of that.

      • smlstrs says:

        Former journalist – 100% everything Nina said.

        I’ll just add that since I started (2009) there’s a trend of pulling reporters off the street and hooking them up to monitor social media – you can get more stories out of them faster, sometimes double digits per day, and that means more clicks and clicks is what too many newsrooms and pitch meetings run on these days.

        This comes at the price of information.

        I can knock out a 500 word piece, including original reporting, in a day and feel solid about it but know that I’m barely scratching the surface. People knocking out 5-15 or more daily don’t have much time to GET info, let alone write it up, unless they’re writing repetitively on the same topic.

        See also the click driven volume of Meghan hate coverage – those CLEARLY don’t take much time or attention to write, but they convey next to nothing. Now transfer that coverage method to basically everything else and … yeah.

        That’s also before the marketing department asks you to take out any negative coverage of the car company that’s making faulty break systems that kill teenagers but they have a big advertising act with the parent company so that story you spent months on, pulling records and interviewing victims families and understanding the tech of the faulty systems, the compromise your editor makes is that it’s cut in half and they won’t promote it. (Not me, a colleague.)

        I had pictured a lot more hanging out in allies wearing a fedora waiting for sources to leave bars; maybe I should have turned around when we were required to sign up for Twitter during j-school.

  3. CROWHOODRETURNS says:

    Why didn’t they just save everybody time and say to the Murdoch kid “it’s your dad. He’s the problem”.

    • MsIam says:

      Oh I think he knows, that’s why he left his dad’s company. Plus it’s not just Murdoch, its social media too that drives a lot of the b.s.

    • Betsy says:

      It would have been more honest and direct, certainly. I can’t believe we still have to jolly these people along. Disinformation is like 95% a right wing problem.

    • Jodes says:

      I think that is why he is there. He knows.

  4. Becks1 says:

    Just want to point out that this is how professionals operate – we heard that Harry was on this commission, there was an announcement about him and the others that were part of it, and then we haven’t really heard a whole lot else about it until their final report is released. No teasers on IG for months, no promises that “something big is coming,” its just…here.

    the bit about local journalism is so important but its so hard for the reasons mentioned – so many local news stations are owned by national media companies like Sinclair and it really effects the tone of the news reports.

    • Eurydice says:

      Yes, everything H&M do is about the work first. What’s interesting to me here is that 6 months isn’t that long a time for coming out with a report on such a huge subject – I wonder what they’ll be doing next.

    • iconoclast59 says:

      But did Harry have a pie chart?!? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic. LOL) Seriously, though, I hope Harry and the foundation can make some headway on this. It won’t be easy.

  5. MsIam says:

    I like the part about investment in local journalism but I fear it’s too late. What has kind of replaced independent local journalism is what we see with the blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels. But that is a double-edged sword because they are such a hotbed of conspiracy theories with no oversight. I wonder if the anti trust laws can be used against the big media conglomerates and if so is there any political will to do it? Elizabeth Warren has talked about going after Facebook for years but that just dies in the wind.

  6. Amy Bee says:

    The media corporations around the world need to broken up. In the UK for example, three rich families own the major newspapers. I also think more must be done make the newsrooms more diverse and to end the nepotism that goes on in that industry.

  7. Jodes says:

    One of our ex Prime Ministers is pushing for a RM/Fox Media royal commission here in OZ. He is on their tail every day posting about every mistruth and fabrication they print. More of that needs to happen. Well known, publicly respected individuals publicly holding Murdoch and fox to account.

  8. Margaret says:

    It is not just right wing, it is liberal also, to be honest. They all need a reset, refresh button.

    • Merricat says:

      Lol

    • goofpuff says:

      I think you’re being disingenuous. The right wing is so out there, full of made up things, and sensationalism that people automatically start thinking maybe the left saying that police kill black men, that systematic racism exists, that there is real climate disaster are also exaggerating. But the thing is, those things are true and not exaggerated.

      I grow tired of constantly having to reset people to that. No, I am not “exaggerating racism” when I tell something happened, it actually happened.

    • Korra says:

      But there really isn’t a big liberal media ecosystem to begin with, sans some YouTube channels, bloggers, and social pages. There is the rightwing media ecosystem and there is the corporate media ecosystem, which is covertly rightwing anyways.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Yes, you are right!! And let’s face it, those who want to report publicly about left wing issues or issues that are plaguing this country, the US, are certainly potential targets of attacks from the whackos of the right wing citizens. You see it now in school board meetings, or union meetings. It’s as if the right wing has 4 speeds, lie, attack, scream and threaten. That’s it! They think that if they scream louder, it makes their point of view the right and only point of view.

        Then you see the Secretary of State heads in Republican held states in the 2020 presidential election of Republican declaring their fear of threats and retribution take place.

        I hope that they never forget what a majority of Democrats or Independents have suffered for years. It’s a hard pill to swallow when the violent, threatening and ugly side of your party comes after you.

  9. GrnieWnie says:

    oh, this is the kind of thing I work on, HIRE ME HARRY!!!!!

  10. cisne says:

    This has been a problem since Europeans started documenting “history”. Your libraries are full of misinformation especially where contributions of other peoples are concerned. The British royal family and other European royality also bank rolled many of those “classics” or projects.
    It is just now that every Joe Shmoo can do it. The Internet and before it cheap rags has sort of democratized the misinformation and its business model.
    But yeah Harry is doing his thing.