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The Citizen Journalism Manual…

7. Dealing with conspiracy theories

  • the pandemic and just about everything, including treatments, around it
  • assertions that the Earth is actually flat, like a pancake, in a solar system of spherical planets
  • the notion that a shady cabal of people lurking in society’s shadows actually control what happens in the world—the dreaded Illuminati
  • Bill Gates is trying to control agriculture, medicine and who-knows-what-else
  • any number of misunderstandings, deliberate and not-so, around different foods.

What do citizen journalists do?

First, as citizen journalists we expect people to speculate about the cause of a disaster. Most of that will be people trying to make sense of what has happened and most of it will leave open the attribution of blame. Citizen journalists expect conjecture about the motives of anyone identified by the authorities as being responsible. Authorities seldom speculate.

  • how do conspiracy theorists know what they claim to know? where are their sources where they get the information from?
  • how did they come by this knowledge?
  • how reliable are their sources?
  • can they produce verifiable evidence?
  • is it valid evidence? is it scientific consensus, not just the claim of one or a few scientists, rather what most consider to be true?
  • who are the conspiracists?
  • have they made conspiratorial claims about other disasters? were they right or wrong? what is their track record in making such claims?
  • are they running a political agenda?
  • are they trying to sell us something?

The Citizen Journalism Manual…

  1. Citizen journalism: A few definitions



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Russ Grayson

I'm an independent online and photojournalist living on the Tasmanian coast after nine months on the road in a minivan.