News Over Noise

Exploring the challenge of separating spin and click-bait from good journalism and why it matters

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  • Episode 101

News Avoidance and Why It Matters

On this episode, we delve into news avoidance, what it is, and why it matters. We also offer some strategies for how to overcome your own reluctance to engage with journalism.

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  • Episode 102

What Happened to Local News?

When people consume quality local journalism they vote more, get more engaged in their community, and trust each other more. Guest Tim Lambert, the Multimedia News Director at WITF, discusses the implications of what happens when local news outlets start disappearing and offers some tips on how to evaluate the credibility of the news you consume.

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  • Episode 103

What’s Missing From Economic News?

Whether your eyelids get heavy at the mere mention of an economic story or you're a seasoned economic news consumer and want to know how you can find reliable, quality reporting, this is a discussion for you. We talk with Bob Frick, Navy Federal’s Corporate Economist, about what makes for quality—and not so quality—economic reporting and how you can tell the difference. We also discuss how you cut through the buzzwords and vague characterizations to get to the bottom of what’s actually going on.

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  • Episode 104

The Danger of the "News Finds Me" Mentality

Most Americans get their information fed to them through their smartphones. Constant bombardment and easy access to headlines, video clips, and sound bites help create the illusion that we are well-informed about the goings-on of our world. But...are we? In this episode, we explore what the News Finds Me mentality is, how it impacts civic engagement, and why it might be leaving us less informed than we realize.

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  • Episode 105

Social Media: Friend or Foe to the News Cycle?

Social media often gets a bad rap, but it plays an undeniably critical role in today’s media landscape. With younger people increasingly opting to get their information from platforms like TikTok instead of traditional news sources, its significance is only likely to increase. On this episode, we talk with journalist, activist, and social media strategist Annie Wu about the power of social media to drive the agenda when it comes to news, politics, and public opinion.

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  • Episode 106

Trolling the News in an Attention Economy

Terms like trolls and butterfly attacks sound like something out of a childhood fable. Unfortunately, in the digital information landscape, these terms represent very real tactics that can have devastating effects on democracy. What are these bad-actors are trying to accomplish? And, how can you protect yourself from becoming prey to their malicious schemes? To find out, we talk with Dr. Joan Donovan, one of the leading experts on media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns, and online extremism.

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  • Episode 107

Overcoming Pride and Prejudice Through Persuasion

How do you respond when someone disagrees with you? If you’re like many Americans, you probably end the conversation and write them off. And who can blame you when debates are frequently framed as moralistic disputes between the righteous and the enemy? But what's the cost of walking away instead of making an effort to engage? We find out by talking with best-selling author Anand Giridharadas.

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  • Episode 108

A Pro-democracy Case Against Objectivity

“My experience is that audiences want us to be truthful and fair, but they don’t want us to be robots.” That’s a quote from a blog post by journalist Lewis Raven Wallace—a post that led to him being fired from Marketplace. Wallace has become an outspoken critique of the notion that “objectivity” is a catchall for accurate journalism. In this episode, we talk with Wallace about the concept of journalistic neutrality and about what can be done to restore some lost public trust in journalism.

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  • Episode 109

Protecting Public Interest: The Role of Regulation in Media

Who owns the news? Media buyouts and mergers have become so commonplace you might not even realize that your local paper or news station is owned by a massive corporation in some far-off place. You might think, “I’m still getting access to information, so why does diversity in media ownership matter?” To find out, we talk with Michael Copps, a former commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission. 

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  • Episode 110

Rebuilding Trust Through Solutions Journalism

Do you feel discouraged or even defeated about the state of the world? So much so that you find yourself disengaging? What if we told you that there was another path? That there’s a form of reporting that doesn’t just tell you what's wrong in your community but actively works to empower you to help set it right? On this episode, we talk with James Causey a projects reporter and columnist about solutions journalism and the potential it holds for strengthening democracy.

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About News Over Noise

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Leah Dajches, Ph.D.

Leah is a postdoctoral scholar at Pennsylvania State University working on the News Literacy Initiative and host of the podcast News Over Noise. Her research focuses on media representation, effects, and literacy as it relates to adolescent development and marginalized group experiences. In particular, Leah is interested in understanding the role of entertainment media and fandom in various components of identity development. Her research has been published in top-tier journals such as Health Communication, Journal of Children and Media, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, and Psychology of Popular Media, among others.

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Matt Jordan, Ph.D.

Matt is head of the Department of Film Production and Media Studies in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University, and Director of the News Literacy Initiative. He is host of the podcast News Over Noise. He writes and teaches classes about how today’s media systems have been altered by digital technology and what it means for democracy. He is executive producer of the documentary series HumIn Focus and author of dozens of articles and books on popular culture in America and Europe. His latest book is Danger Sound Klaxon! The Horn that Changed History.

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News Over Noise is produced by the Penn State, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and WPSU. This program has been funded by the office of the Executive Vice President and Provost of Penn State and is part of the Penn State News Literacy Initiative.