Copy
View this email in your browser
Weekly reads from CJR for March 4, 2021

The disinformation attack on Michael Tubbs

In 2017, Michael Tubbs was elected mayor of Stockton, California, home to about three hundred thousand people and considered to be the most diverse city in America. The youngest and first Black person to hold the position, Tubbs embarked on instituting a slate of progressive policies; he soon became a rising star in the Democratic Party. Early last year, his reelection seemed sure. But then a fake-news website called the 209 Times waged a disinformation campaign against him. Named for Stockton’s area code, the 209 Times traded on the public’s high levels of trust in the local press in order to spread lies. “It was really about weaponizing information and playing on people’s biases and racism,” Tubbs told Akintunde Ahmad.

In a special episode of The Kicker, Tubbs spoke with Ahmad about news deserts, political disinformation, and the material effects of online racism. During his term as mayor, Stockton’s hometown newspaper made cutbacks, leaving a void that rendered the community’s information ecosystem particularly vulnerable. “I think that the organizing principles behind what we’re seeing are really about creating chaos and sowing division,” Tubbs said. “I think what’s missing is that people assume that, if it’s posted, if it’s been shared, that somebody has vetted it at some point on the food chain. And that’s just not what’s happening.” Unseated, Tubbs now hopes to bring attention to the consequences of a weakened local press—and what social media companies must do for the sake of a healthy democracy.
––Betsy Morais, managing editor

READ MORE »

More from CJR

Beloved hip-hop magazine Wax Poetics gets revived

 
“Other magazines at that time might write a review of a record I put out, but to get it covered in Wax Poetics was status.”

Read more »

The Lurker

 
 
How Joanne McNeil copes with the inundation of news online

Read more »

It's not misinformation. It's faith.


Embedding with an anti-vaccination group on WhatsApp

Read more »

Our weekly podcast on media news, The Kicker, is available on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and SoundCloud.

Catch up with all of our coverage at CJR.org.
 
Tweet Tweet
Share Share
Post Post
You are receiving this because you signed up for CJR’s regular email newsletter. You can unsubscribe from this list.

Columbia Journalism Review
801 Pulitzer Hall
2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027