Alexandre Dumas' famous anecdote about Fake News in the 1800s has a surprising twist.
- Unfazed by his first defeat, Napoleon swept back into power in 1815, going from exile to emperor within a single month.
- Parisian newspapers scrambled to adapt: at the start of that month, Napoleon was a 'cannibal'; at the end, 'His Majesty'.
- For the first time ever, this map illustrates the spatial dimension of that shift – but the anecdote, made famous by Dumas, has a twist.
Napoleon's return<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUwNzUyMC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTQyMTk2NH0.l0fMraZJdCs0DXT5PvMVGi59tQh48XyKzUDf-GsB7Lc/img.png?width=980" id="8590f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="582486983fc34779beeb1d20eacafe17" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Detail from \u2018D\u00e9barquement de Napol\u00e9on\u2019. Colored wood engraving by Fran\u00e7ois Georgin (1801-63). Print on paper." />
1 March 1815: Napoleon lands at Golfe-Juan. Detail from 'Débarquement de Napoléon' by François Georgin.
"The ultimate monument to journalism"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUwNzU1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDk5NjA1MX0.nOCJaZiMApEHtLmroT8SICpovVDHKvU-_HO5rHH056I/img.jpg?width=980" id="8cb81" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3b21a70c12971923a92503468d6b97c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Photographic portrait from 1855 of Alexandre Dumas" />
In Une année à Florence (1841), Alexandre Dumas (pictured by Nadar in 1855) took a critical look at the attitudes of the Parisian press to Napoleon's return.
Image: Public Domain<p>In 1841, Alexandre Dumas <em>père</em> published a travelogue called "Une année à Florence" ('A year in Florence'). It contained a reflection on the believability of newspaper headlines, based on the reports on Napoleon's return to power in the Paris-based newspaper <em>Moniteur Universel</em> in March 1815. </p><p><span></span>As the official journal of the French government, that paper was hostile to Napoleon, at least when he started his campaign. Dumas notes that the attitude shifted as the deposed Emperor approached the seat of power: </p><p><span></span>"If you want to follow his victory march to Paris, you only have to consult the <em>Moniteur</em>. To guide our readers in this historical research, we will provide a rather curious sample. Step by step, it represents Napoleon's march towards Paris and shows the change his advance produces in the attitude of the newspaper."</p><p>Dumas then lists ten headlines which prove his point. Below are the original French headlines, plotted on the map are the English translations. For the first time ever, this map provides a spatial dimension to the shifting attitudes of the <em>Moniteur</em>. </p><ul><li><em>L'anthropophage est sorti de son repaire.</em></li><li><em>L'ogre de Corse vient de débarquer au golfe Juan.</em></li><li><em>Le tigre est arrivé à Gap. </em></li><li><em>Le monstre a couché à Grenoble. </em></li><li><em>Le tyran a traversé Lyon. </em></li><li><em>L'usurpateur a été vu à soixante lieues de la capitale. </em></li><li><em>Bonaparte s'avance à grands pas, mais il n'entrera jamais dans Paris. </em></li><li><em>Napoléon sera demain sous nos remparts. </em></li><li><em>L'empereur est arrivé à Fontainebleau.</em></li><li><em>Sa Majesté Impériale et Royale a fait hier son entrée en son château des Tuileries au milieu de ses fidèles sujets.</em></li></ul>Dumas concludes: "This is the ultimate monument to journalism. It need not do anything else, for it won't do anything better."
When legend becomes fact<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU0MDQwOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NDY4NjY3NH0.pBR9gkcaDocFMKN7yEOLG2m6z8BVWVQ_7LTfY0ZH1uA/img.png?width=980" id="1625f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3b8d9a5201ab19c38bfab18c83aa73c0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMap by Frank Jacobs & Carrie Osgood illustrating Napoleon's return to Paris, from 1 to 20 March 1815." />
For the first time, a map that shows Napoleon's lightning march to retake power in Paris, and the headlines that accompanied him there.
Image: Frank Jacobs & Carrie Osgood<p>The <em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Moniteur Universel</em> was known as <em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">le journal de la pensée officielle</em>, i.e. the record of 'official thought'. Perhaps not so different to the 'mainstream media' of today. In fact, some have drawn parallels between the <em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Moniteur</em>'s initial dismissiveness of Napoleon's return, and the U.S. media's inability to comprehend Trump's march to victory in 2016. For that reason, and to illustrate the larger point that truth and journalism should not be mistaken for each other, the Dumas anecdote is regularly dusted off.<br></p><p><span data-verified="redactor" data-redactor-tag="span"></span>However, the story has another layer – and a two other important lessons about journalism. </p><p><span data-verified="redactor" data-redactor-tag="span"></span>Lesson number one: Check your sources. The entire run of the <em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Moniteur Universel</em> <a href="https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb34452336z/date.item" target="_blank">can be consulted online</a> via the <a href="https://www.bnf.fr/fr" target="_blank">French National Library</a>, including the relevant daily editions from March 1-20, 1815. They do not contain the titles that Dumas uses. In fact, as the journal of record, the <em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Moniteur</em> mainly published decrees, statutes and ordinances – nothing quite as lurid as the headlines quoted by Dumas. </p><p>In <em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Les Cent-Jours: Légende et réalité</em> (1983), French historian George Blond after extensive research is forced to conclude that "although the Emperor was insulted and dismissed as an adventurer or evildoer in some newspaper commentaries, this legendary series of newspaper headlines never did exist."</p><p>Of course, that won't stop the Dumas anecdote from resurfacing. And that second lesson is perhaps the ultimate one this anecdote can teach us about journalism: that the media – mainstream or otherwise – can't resist a good story. In the words of newspaperman Maxwell Scott in the John Ford western "The Man who Shot Liberty Vallance: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><br></em></p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Many thanks to <a href="https://carrieosgood.com/" target="_blank">Carrie Osgood</a>, who produced the map to complement Alexandre Dumas' anecdote. </em><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">The map is available for purchase on her <a href="https://dataworldatlas.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">online store</a> in two versions, the <a href="https://dataworldatlas.com/posters.html#!/Napoleon-Map/p/239541152/category=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">basic map</a> (as shown above) and the <a href="https://dataworldatlas.com/posters.html#!/Napoleon-Map-&-Story/p/239559061/category=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">map with the story</a> (as shown below).</em><br></p><p><strong data-redactor-tag="strong">Strange Maps #1050</strong></p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">.</em><br></p>
Ad Fontes Media wants to educate readers on where to find reliable sources of news and lessen the heat from the political flame wars.
- Polarized, unreliable news can be dangerous during turbulent times, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Ad Fontes' Media Bias Chart maps out the biases and reliability of legacy and alternative news organizations.
- Political bias is one of many we must be wary of when judging the quality of the news we consume.
Creating the Media Bias Chart<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkxMTE4OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzE2Mjg1M30.1ycjIn1YuKDZlG4agMud2EaXCXl51ChCsU6p-qUP4cw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C169%2C0%2C169&height=700" id="c6757" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5fdd0adc71de8f73fe68d4116eb7b4d9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The extreme bias and partisanship of the 2016 election led Vanessa Otero to create the first Media Bias Chart.
Triangulating the news landscape<a href="https://www.bigthinkedge.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Media-Bias-Chart-5.1-Licensed-scaled.jpg" ><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkxMTk0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDIxNjc1OH0.inOVdlCHsKqE1DDoul-9ddyUwhryW1-_b_YnNrFeE24/img.jpg?width=980" id="22342" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6383326fa3e3a524255882c7c1ad16e4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /></a>
Click on the image to zoom in and get a better view. The Media Bias Chart, version 5.1, charts reliability and bias in about 90 popular news sources.(Photo: Ad Fontes Media)<p>The chart splays a cavalcade of news media logos across its grid to form a giant triangle. At the top-middle stands the news sources that are balanced and highly reliable. As we slide down <a href="https://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/the-psychology-of-why-the-left-the-right-even-scientists-believe-in-media-bias" target="_blank">the left and right sides</a>, we fall deeper into the realm of partisanship and mudslinging.</p><p>The chart's y-axis measures reliability on a scale of 0–64. According to the Ad Fontes website, a reliability score of 24 or higher is considered acceptable, while a score of 32 or higher represents good reliability. </p><p>The chart's x-axis measures from -42 to 42. Scores closer to zero equate to neutral, balanced views. The more a news organization shows a conservative bent, the more their score pushes right of zero, maxing out at 42. The more a news organization shows a progressive bent, the more their score pushes left of zero, maxing out at -42. </p><p>For those fuming that progressive news is measured by "negative" numbers while the right is seen as "positive," chill! That's just how x-axes work.</p>
Who is the fairest (and most balanced) of them all?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkxMTE5NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjU1NjI1N30.Qo1QT1e6RAd0lqEv9_RQeiNm3Jh5W9zYDBnxV-wqSmE/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C51%2C0%2C0&height=700" id="1ceef" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a211224743eef78eff2d86a2cf9032e0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="John Daniszewski of Associated Press and Kirill Kleymenov interview Vladimir Putin" />
John Daniszewski, vice president and editor at large for standards of the Associated Press, and Kirill Kleymenov interview Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013.
Making better news choices<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="czxJ0ct2" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="be9e8c9ef4b28ccf7a4009d0dc535822"> <div id="botr_czxJ0ct2_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/czxJ0ct2-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/czxJ0ct2-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/czxJ0ct2-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The Media Bias Chart provides an easy way to digest an otherwise complex media landscape. The website also rates weekly articles, so readers can examine how different news sources spin the major story of the day.</p><p>However, it is only one tool that looks toward a particular bias spectrum in our media. There are more. <em>New York Times</em> columnist David Leonhardt identifies <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/opinion/media-bias-howard-schultz.html" target="_blank">six forms of media bias</a>. In addition to the right and left political biases, he showcases the centrist bias (both sides must always be equal in blame regardless of the circumstances), the affluent bias (national journalist tend to be more affluent than the average), the newness bias (events that are new seem more important), and social biases (sexism, racism, ageism, and so on).</p><p>To detect bias and skewed information, <a href="https://fair.org/take-action-now/media-activism-kit/how-to-detect-bias-in-news-media/" target="_blank">the media watch group FAIR</a> (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) recommends asking following questions of news content and the sources containing them:</p> <ul><li>Who are the sources?</li><li>Is there a lack of diversity?</li><li>From whose point of view is the news reported?</li><li>Are there double standards?</li><li>Do stereotypes skew coverage?</li><li>What are the unchallenged assumptions?</li><li>Is the language loaded?</li><li>Is there a lack of context?</li><li>Do the headlines and stories match?</li><li>Are stories on important issues featured prominently?</li></ul> <p>We can't afford to digest news with passive acceptance. Like Otero, we need to develop personal methodologies for analyzing a source's reliability and distrust for biases, especially those that make us feel that <a href="https://bigthink.com/videos/heidi-grant-halvorson-on-first-impressions" target="_blank">twinge of personal satisfaction</a>.</p>
Here's how to have a healthier relationship with politics.
- "[T]he single healthiest thing most of us can do for our relationship with politics and for politics would be to deemphasize our connection to national politics and reemphasize our connection to state and local politics," says Ezra Klein.
- The media has become overwhelmingly nationalized. To improve your relationship with politics, and to improve politics in general, be intentional about your informational ecosystem.
- Klein recommends reconstructing your news diet so it doesn't overwhelmingly feature national politics, rather sign up for local newsletters, subscribe to your local paper, and get involved in community politics rather than yelling at cable TV or lashing out on Twitter.
It's the first American news channel to focus on African-American experiences.
- The channel aims to fill a "void" in mainstream media by telling stories and covering issues that matter to African Americans, according to the channel's website.
- BNC will feature all-black on-air talent, and it aims to be nonpartisan.
- Some have questioned how African Americans will respond to the channel, which launched Feb. 10.
An uncertain reaction<p>Still, even though cable channels like MSNBC attract a <a href="https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/9/1731233/-MSNBC-Has-Biggest-Black-Prime-Time-Audience-on-Cable-FOX-News-Isn-t-Even-in-the-Top-10" target="_blank">relatively large African-American audience</a>, there's long been a lack of news programming designed exclusively for the demographic.<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We've been really pushing for diversity and inclusion in the broadcast space and cable space and it's because we live in a multi-racial civil society," said New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke. "For far too long, our media didn't speak to that and today still doesn't speak to that diversity. The Black News Channel will fill a void in many spaces."</p><p>However, some have <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1132516" target="_blank">questioned</a> whether BNC will resonate with its target audience, considering that Watts is a Republican, and his co-founder is a white TV executive. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Sometimes when people outside of the culture design something for us. You can smell that," Angela Ford, founder of the Obsidian Collection, which archives African-American owned newspapers, told <a href="https://mashable.com/article/black-news-channel-need-to-know/" target="_blank"><em>Mashable</em></a>. "The black community is quick, we are very protective and instinctive. It'll take like two hours to see if this is us or not. [...] Because America is so challenging we have an instinct about whether we're safe or not or what the agenda is."</p><p>Of course, that's assuming the black community will have a homogenous response. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"African Americans are not monolithic," Orlando told <a href="https://www.indiewire.com/2019/03/bet-own-oprah-tv-one-bounce-black-tv-networks-1202032679/" target="_blank"><em>IndieWire</em></a>, in an interview about the rise of black-focused entertainment. "There's room for all of us in the ever-changing content landscape, and other networks creating African-American content opens the door to more opportunities for African-American content creators, actors, and producers."</p><p>BNC will first premiere in majority African-American markets like New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, and hopes to expand in the near future.</p>
The race to be first in science journalism is hurting science.
- Journalists writing about science have become more science fluent over the past 20 years, but the need to be first and the practice of giving equal exposure to opposing views regardless of scientific evidence (e.g. climate change) has been detrimental to the public's understanding of the facts.
- Reporting on science from the "frontier" doesn't provide the full picture because it doesn't give scientists time to verify and re-verify the results of experiments.
- Journalists have more power than scientists when it comes to disseminating information, so it's their inherent responsibility to get the facts right.