January 11, 2022
Journalism / Mythinformation is a podcast that focuses on journalists of today and the challenges they face during this era of misinformation.
Episode 2: Jane Lytveneko / Hydra
The hydra is a mythological beast known to grow back two heads for everyone cut off in battle, a challenging foe for any hero. But what if we modernized the legend by making the body of the monster a news story, with the heads representing all the ways it can be filled with lies and misinformation?
This week, journalist Jane Lytvynenko discusses how she was able to determine what was fact and what was fiction, fighting the hydra heads of misinformation in real time.
As a former reporter at Buzzfeed, she specialized in fact-checking any information, separating out the “false information” from the truth. Her practical advice for continuing to seek the truth despite feeling surrounded by false information gives the next generation of journalists hope.
“I was hired by a wonderful colleague and mentor of mine named Craig Silverman, who was working on media manipulation and disinformation way before anybody really understood how big of a problem it was,” she said. “I was hired specifically to report on disinformation. Most of the disinformation takes place during breaking news events. That’s because there’s something that’s called an information vacuum, which is reporters haven’t had time to figure out what the situation is. [My job was to] start looking for false information and putting that out in both an article and a Twitter thread.”
Jane also wanted to leave a few pieces of advice for aspiring journalists:
“Take your online security seriously,” she said. “Learn how to do advanced searches on Google and Twitter, particularly that’s going to save your life one day and be creative. A lot of the bad things about the internet are true, but it also gives us a lot of possibilities as reporters and as researchers to develop methodologies and approaches that nobody’s ever thought of before. So don’t be afraid to try something — if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and if it does, you’re brilliant.”
Now a fellow at Harvard, Lytvynenko studies the origins and effects of false information in media, its life cycle and distribution.
Credits: Journalism / Mythinformation was produced for Julia Furlan’s Fall 2021 NYU American Journalism Online podcasting class. Brian Bull (aka Hercules) hosted, wrote, and produced this episode. Bobby Brier (aka Iolaus) edited sound and produced this episode. CK Smith (aka Hera) hosted and produced. Isabella Mata (aka Hydra) produced this episode. Special guest and advisor Julia Furlan as the voice of Athena.
Music for this episode is provided under a Creative commons license. The songs were “Need Change” and “Horizons” by Ketsa and “The Era of War” by J.R.S. Schattenberg.
Sound effects by ZapSplat.com