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UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation

Described as “the secret decoder ring for the 21st-century world of disinformation,” the book UnSpun lays bare the art of spinning – rampant in the world of politics, marketing and news. Jackson, who directs FactCheck.org, a website of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), and Jamieson, APPC's director, teamed up with Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Signe Wilkinson of the Philadelphia Daily News to detail how spin has worked successfully in selling everything from war and taxes to emu oil and “tall” coffees. The authors are particularly excited about a unique feature of unSpun, a companion website that allows them to update the book online.

For example, after unSpun went to press, new data on the homeless population became available and is now posted on the site, www.factcheck.org/unspun/.

Jamieson calls this feature "a pioneer use of the internet" that will enable researchers and authors to keep print publications current, as well as to provide supplemental data. UnSpun's source notes also are included on the website.

Said Jackson: "What we've tried to do with this book is show how often we voters and consumers get spun without even knowing it, and why. We share with our readers some of the tools we use everyday at FactCheck.org to de-bunk the malarkey and find reliable information quickly using the internet."

In advance of the book's release veteran journalist Bill Moyers wrote: "Read this book and you will not go unarmed into the political wars ahead of us. Jackson and Jamieson equip us to be our own truth squad, and that just might be the salvation of democracy."

About the Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) has been the premier communication policy center in the country since its founding in 1993. By conducting and releasing research, staging conferences and hosting policy discussions, its scholars have addressed the role of communication in politics, adolescent behavior, child development, health care, civics and mental health, among other important arenas. The Center's researchers have drafted materials that helped policy-makers, journalists, scholars, constituent groups and the general public better understand the role that media play in their lives and the life of the nation. The Policy Center maintains offices in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

APPC's work has informed the policy debates around campaign finance, children's television, internet privacy, tobacco advertising and the tone of discourse in Washington. Scholars at the Policy Center have offered guidance to journalists covering difficult stories, including terrorist threats, suicide and mental health. The Center's discussions of key public policy issues have brought together industry representatives, advocates, government officials and the scholarly community. Its research has examined what messages work best to reduce the spread of HIV and drug use, how to improve candidate discourse and specific strategies for parents to use to monitor their children's media exposure. APPC has developed materials to help educators and schools do a better job of teaching youth about civic responsibility, democracy and the Constitution.

Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Random House (2007)

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