The Columbia Journalism Review unveiled the first-of-its-kind ‘Fake Newsstand’ in Manhattan to educate voters on how to identify disinformation. The Fake Newsstand ‘sells’ newspapers and magazines which have fake headlines from existing internet sources printed on their covers, mirroring the design of legitimate publications.

The newsstand was located on the corner of 42 Street and Sixth Avenue, the busiest corner of Bryant Park to draw attention to the unchecked spread of misinformation and disinformation online undermining the work of real reporters depending on real facts.

“We embarked on this initiative to help people spot disinformation,” said Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, the media industry’s leading press criticism publication. “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.”

The Fake-Info Newsstand project, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, transformed a New York City newsstand, loading it with real-looking newspapers and magazines. Inside, CJR has developed an educational reader’s guide that offers tips for recognizing disinformation in the news. The guide is also available online.

The headlines are laughable: “Trump claims America should have never given Canada its independence,” reads one; “Texas now recognized as Mexican state,” asserts another. And my personal favourite, “Toddler fight club: Parents outraged after daycare got busted running kids fight club.”

They’re ridiculous in part because they’re pulled out of the dark reaches of the internet and made tangible – something you can hold in your hands but too many of the States and those globally don’t realise the absurdity of pieces of misinformation when they’re scrolling through and sharing news.

Columbia Journalism Review hope that the one-day project seeing the fake news transformed into what could be a real publication on a real newsstand will be a call to all of us to be more thoughtful, and more careful, about the news and information we are seeing and sharing.


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