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The Fake News Stand

The Fake News Stand | Columbia Journalism Review | TBWA
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Industry: Media & Publishing
Style: Minimalism

The spread of misinformation is a real problem: 1 in 4 Americans say they’ve shared propaganda online and two-thirds believe “fake news” influenced the 2016 election.
As the 2018 midterm elections approached, the Columbia Journalism Review wanted to confront Americans about the veracity of the news they were reading and sharing online. They wanted to emphasize the importance of seeking out real news from credible journalists, and to empower the electorate with steps they can take to be better informed.

Describe the creative idea (40% of vote)

The Columbia Journalism Review wanted to confront Americans about the veracity of the news they were reading and sharing online. So we created the Fake Newsstand.

We found misleading headlines that had been widely shared online, and we put them on the covers of what looked like real, tangible publications. Inside, there was an educational guide that prompted people to question the headline’s accuracy, offered tips to spotting misinformation and explained the importance of seeking out real news produced by credible journalists — a timely message as the midterm elections of 2018 approached. Then we filled a highly trafficked newsstand in Manhattan with the fake publications and waited for people’s reactions.

Describe the execution (40% of vote)

We conceived and crafted more than 20 original newspapers and magazines. Each had a unique name and layout inspired by a real publication.

Every headline was sourced from the Internet, where it had been widely shared. By putting these misleading headlines on seemingly reputable publications, our intention was to make misinformation tangible in order to confront people with the very real problem of false news.

The placement of the Fake News Stand was highly strategic, located on one of the busiest corners in Manhattan: 42nd Street and 6th Avenue. The newsstand stood directly in the paths of hundreds of thousands of tourists, residents and commuters.

CJR’s staff stood nearby the news stand and engaged each person who approached it. Our publications and the inserts were distributed for free — everyone who interacted with the Fake Newsstand got the full story behind it, and they left with something they could keep.

List the results (20% of vote)

Though the Fake Newsstand was a physical space, our intention was to attract interest amongst online audiences through PR and earned news coverage. The attention we received exceeded our expectations: our project generated more than 300 real news stories in over 100 countries, reaching as many as two billion people.
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Design
Publications & Editorial Design
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