2.5 Sources Mistaken for News

There are other news types that go beyond being simply credible or not. Certain types of news are a part of a nuanced group that can be mistaken for truth, or cause confusion without intention. Included here are satire websites, blogs, Reddit, and podcasts. These sources may provide information that is largely opinion-based without being thoroughly researched. They may be mistaken for truth or cause confusion without intention.


Satire News Sites

Satire news sites produce news stories that are purposeful jokes. Sometimes these stories become viral and are mistaken for truth, becoming unintentional misinformation. To determine if a post is satirical, visit the source’s website because most clearly identify themselves as satire sites on their About Us page. Popular Canadian satire news sites that often appear on social media feeds are The Beaverton and The Onion. Below is an example of a satire news story from The Feather News, a site that focuses on Canadian Indigenous content. It features a story claiming that the Prime Minister of Canada chose to get a lower-back tattoo to “double down on reconciliation efforts by unveiling his eagle feather tramp stamp” (The Feather, 2019). The story circulated in the online environment and people began to think it was factual, which came as a surprise to the website’s editor (R. Moccassin, personal communication, 2022, February 7). Belief in this sort of content is not particularly harmful, but it is important to be mindful that this sort of information exists, and although it is not meant to manipulate, it could result in widespread belief in false information.

Image of the backside of a man, with a lower back tattoo of a feather alongside an image of Justin Trudeau smiling.
Figure 11: Viral satire news story about Trudeau (The Feather, 2019).


Blog posts are another source that may be mistaken for news. Blogs are online publications that contain personal commentary on a topic (Merriam-Webster, n.d.c). There are many different types of blogs. For example, a travel blog might discuss restaurants, hotels, and museums but the content is the opinion of the author. Some blogs may focus on reporting news and may call themselves citizen journalism, claiming that the author has investigated and is now reporting on the topic (Agarwal & Bandeli, 2017). These blogs are effective at spreading disinformation because they are often written in the first-person using persuasion, but the content of the post may be biased and partial (Agarwal & Bandeli, 2017). If a blog is created to purposefully spread disinformation, it will most likely be shared across many social media platforms (like Twitter, Facebook, etc.), there will be very little interaction with posts (almost no comments), and the About Us information will be sparse (Agarwal & Bandeli, 2017).


Online Communities – Reddit

Reddit is sometimes mistaken for news, too. It is a social media platform that contains multiple discussion groups called communities designed to give users a sense of belonging (Reddit, n.d.). These communities are defined by the users that create them and many focus on news reporting (Reddit, n.d.). These groups may share news stories that only present one perspective or that may be false. On the other hand, it is also likely that a group may establish rules that require comments to be supported by verifiable evidence. Either way, there are no overarching standards as to what is shared, and each community can take on a completely different form.



Podcasts are online programs that contain music or talking (Merriam-Webster, n.d.b). Due to the popularity of the hosts or the topics discussed, podcasts are sometimes mistaken for news. Since they are not monitored like other types of media, there is concern about the subject matter which often contains baseless claims (Bogle, 2020). For example, a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience claimed that the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab owned by Elon Musk. This guest was not a medical expert and did not have evidence for the claim (Bogle, 2020). Spotify, the platform that hosts the Joe Rogan Experience, has been criticized for hosting podcasts that contain misinformation about vaccines and racial slurs (Sisario, 2022). They have tried to avoid removing content by purposefully not describing themselves as a publisher because publishers have obligations to make sure that material is correct. Spotify states that they would not be able to edit or review every single podcast, due to the sheer volume they host (Sisario, 2022). Despite these obvious concerns, many people say that podcasts provide them with more information and can delve deeper into topics when compared with other forms of media (John, 2021). As with any type of information, it is important to keep asking questions about the author, or reporter and their motivations.



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Disinformation: Dealing with the Disaster Copyright © 2023 by Saskatchewan Polytechnic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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