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How fake news website ‘De Nieuwe Media’ uses journalistic terminology

10 minutes to read
Ruben den Boer

Are fake news websites such as De Nieuwe Media journalistic media? Most people would probably say no. Even though their content might not be considered journalistic, these websites do use journalistic terminology. To better understand how and why they do that, I will use discourse analysis to take a closer look at the website of De Nieuwe Media.

Fake news and De Nieuwe Media

Over the last decade, the internet, social media, and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the rapid spread of phenomena like (online) conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation (Theocharis et al., 2021). These expressions of information disorder are often spread using fake news as it is defined by professors in linguistics Alba-Juez & Lachlan Mackenzie (2019). They define fake news as a distinctive, post-truth subgenre of journalistic discourse. Websites that deploy this discourse, can be labeled as fake news websites. 

The Netherlands is not exempt from these fake news websites. Conspiracy theories and disinformation run rampant on Dutch websites like, where one may stumble upon headlines like: “WHO WILL PUT AN END TO THE FAKE CORONA PANDEMIC IN THE NETHERLANDS AND THE REST OF THE WORLD?”, and: “ARREST THE PEDOPHILIC ELITE IN THE NETHERLANDS!” (De Nieuwe Media, n.d.).

De Nieuwe Media joins an extensive ecosystem of fake news websites

The anonymous editors of De Nieuwe Media claim to “publish the real News […] That which the bribed media […] conceal and/or twist! […] So that the population will awaken en masse!” (De Nieuwe Media, n.d.). With this claim – referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory of the great awakening (LaFrance, 2020) – De Nieuwe Media joins an extensive ecosystem of fake news websites. But it also uses journalistic terminology to seemingly self-identify as a credible journalistic medium. 

Even though ‘fake news’ has been researched extensively over the last years, this interplay between fake news websites and journalistic terminology has not been scrutinized yet. How do the editors of fake news websites deploy journalistic terminology? And what might they hope to achieve with this terminology? In order to create a better understanding of this, I will use this article to take a closer look at the website of De Nieuwe Media. Through discourse analysis, I will analyze how journalistic terminology is deployed in the discourse of this Dutch fake news website.

Concepts & methodology

In order to thoroughly scrutinize the role of journalistic terminology in the discourse of De Nieuwe Media, it is important to clearly define some key concepts that I will need for my analysis: information disorder, journalistic terminology, and indexicality.

Information disorder

Since it came into popularity in 2016, ‘fake news’ has proven to be a catch-all term with too much ambiguity to suffice as a useful concept for scientific analysis because sometimes fake news is not fake at all. Sometimes it is not news at all. That is why I will be turning to Claire Wardle’s concept of information disorder instead.

Wardle defines seven categories of information disorder, ranging from satire or parody to fabricated content. These categories can be categorized into three camps: misinformation (false content without intent to harm), disinformation (false content with intent to harm), and malinformation (true information with intent to harm) (Wardle, 2018). I will use this concept to analyze what kind of content De Nieuwe Media publishes. 

Journalistic terminology

Terminology is the collection of technical terms used by a profession (Hudson, 1978). In that sense, it is an important part of what Charles Goodwin calls professional vision: the highly discursive ways of a professional community of making sense of the world around them and articulating this knowledge (Goodwin, 1994). Journalistic terminology consists of technical terms used by journalists, e.g. ‘headline’, ‘breaking news’ or ‘front page’. To demarcate what exactly constitutes journalistic terminology, the Oxford Dictionary of Journalism will be used as a framework (Harcup, 2014).


I will apply the aforementioned concepts to my data using a discourse analysis approach. Extra attention will be given to the concept of indexicality, which relies on the idea that linguistic signs “suggest metapragmatic, metalinguistic [and] metadiscursive features of meaning” in addition to their denotational meaning (Diggit, 2020). Examining the indexical value of the linguistic signs deployed in the discourse of De Nieuwe Media can therefore say something about the social norms, roles, and identities the editors ascribe to themselves and others. 


Below, I will apply these concepts in a case study analysis of the website of De Nieuwe Media. The research scope is limited to the homepage of the website as it was on 17th December 2021 and one article, namely EXPLANATION CRIMES OF THE CORRUPT REGIME

Analyzing the homepage of De Nieuwe Media

Starting at the very top of De Nieuwe Media’s homepage (see Figure 1), the header consists of three lines: 1) “The New Media”, 2) “Truth newspaper”, and 3) “Publishes the real news daily, weekly and monthly”. In these three lines, three journalistic terms from the Dictionary of Journalism (Harcup, 2014) are recognizable, namely: media, newspaper, and news. These journalistic terms and journalistic terminology are generally used to give the journalistic profession epistemological claim.


Journalism is one of the most important knowledge-producing institutions in modern society. Journalists derive their relevance and importance from the production and dissemination of relevant, accurate, reliable, verified public knowledge (Ekström & Westlund, 2019). To articulate how journalists produce knowledge, journalistic terms are important. They describe and refer to the practices, norms, and routines that define professional, journalistic knowledge production.   

Additionally, because journalistic terminology is used primarily by journalists (though not exclusively), the use of this terminology indexes a certain journalistic identity. By calling one's text a 'news article' or one's collection of texts a 'newspaper', the producer presents themselves as a journalist, implying they adhere to the epistemology that defines the profession.

Figure 1: Home page of

The journalistic terms on the homepage of De Nieuwe Media are not used neutrally. The qualifications that De Nieuwe Media gives to the journalistic terms they use, index a critical stance towards other, not specifically named, news media. By explicitly stating that their media is new, they implicitly state that there are also old media. Their newspaper is truthful, so there are also untruthful newspapers. Their news is real, so there is also fake news.

De Nieuwe Media seems to claim that the field of journalism is old, not truthful, and fake. All these qualifications are used to disqualify journalists for not adhering to journalistic epistemology. At the same time, De Nieuwe Media editors present themselves as the ‘true’ journalists that bring new, truthful, and real journalism. They essentially appropriate the journalistic terminology, epistemology, and identity in order to enregister their content to look like credible news.   

Menu and metadata

The use of journalistic terminology continues in the menu bar underneath the header (see Figure 1), which always remains visible while scrolling. The menu items read: 4) “HOME”, 5) “TOPICAL NEWS”, 6) “CONTACT”, 7) “TRUTH NEWSPAPER”, 8) “RERUNS RED PILL JOURNAL”, 9) “NEWS ITEMS”, and 10) “MORE PAGES”. Additionally, journalistic terminology is also used in the metadata that’s visible in the web browser, namely in the URL, which translates to “” (11), and in the tab, which translates to “Truth newspaper” (12). 

Mission statement

The last of the text that’s visible without scrolling also contains journalistic terminology (see Figure 1). The text reads like an activating mission statement: “De Nieuwe Media publishes the real News! That which the bribed media (state television, radio & major newspapers) conceal and/or twist! Share this website with your family, your friends and all your acquaintances. So that the population will awaken en masse! […]” (13).  

Here, the implicit critique of the current state of journalism and the promise to bring 'real' journalism communicated in the header of the home page, are made explicit. On top of that, the references to bribed state media, concealed and twisted information, and a population that will “wake up en masse” index De Nieuwe Media’s allegiance with conspiracy theories, in particular the theories spread by QAnon that claim that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media” (Roose, 2021).

De Nieuwe Media uses journalistic terminology to display an identity of ‘true journalists’

Even though conspiracy theories are not always false by definition, QAnon is widely considered to be a baseless, anti-Semitic, dangerous conspiracy theory that is detached from reality and promotes hatred and violence (Richards, 2021). This makes it a false theory with an intention to harm. According to Wardle’s (2018) theory of information disorder, QAnon content can thus be labeled as disinformation.

Above the fold

All of the analyzed data up to now has been content ‘above the fold’ of the homepage of De Nieuwe Media. This term is used by web developers to describe the part of a web page that’s visible without having to scroll. It originates from the field of journalism, where it is common practice to place attention-grabbing headlines, content, and imagery on the top half of the page in order to get people to buy and read the whole newspaper (Brebion, 2018). The fact that journalistic terminology is so prominently deployed above the fold, suggests that De Nieuwe Media uses this terminology to lay claim to the journalistic epistemology, to enregister the content on their website to look like credible news, and to display an identity of ‘true journalists’ for themselves in order to get people to read their articles ‘below the fold’. 

Analyzing a news article by De Nieuwe Media

The claim to journalistic epistemology is disqualified, however, by the actual content of the website. An emblematic example of this is the article "EXPLANATION CRIMES OF THE CORRUPT REGIME", posted on 29th October 2021. There are a lot of elements missing from this item that would normally index an editor’s journalistic identity and adherence to journalistic epistemology, such as transparency about their sources, a sense of journalistic objectivity, the name of the editor to ensure accountability or the use of credible arguments and evidence (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014) to support bold claims like “Willem-Alexander is the unrightful owner of The Netherlands” (De Nieuwe Media, 2021). 

Instead, the article contains an incoherent mix of false context (e.g. a letter to Dutch princess Máxima taken out of context) manipulated content (e.g. a visual labeling Dutch intensive care specialist Diederik Gommers and Dutch politicians Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge “Vaccinazi’s”, see Figure 2), and fabricated content (e.g. a video theorizing how a member of the Dutch royal family was swapped at birth). This makes the article a mix of false and true content, composed with the goal of harming Dutch politicians, medical specialists, and royals. Therefore, this article can be labeled as a mix of disinformation and malinformation, according to Wardle (2018).       

Figure 2: Fragment of the article EXPLANATION CRIMES OF THE CORRUPT REGIME.

A lot of this dis- and malinformation is not created by De Nieuwe Media editors themselves, though. Instead, they aggregate third-party content and present it via hyperlinks and embedding. In this specific article, there is a hyperlink to a letter of princess Máxima, downloadable PDF files with “facts”, and embedded videos by conspiracy theory media and This way, De Nieuwe Media acts as a gateway to a vast ecology of information disorder sources.  

In a post-truth context, ‘truthful’ and ‘real’ become hollow terms

Post-truth discourse

Spreading disinformation and malinformation below the fold while promising ‘true journalism’ above the fold – like De Nieuwe Media does - may seem paradoxical at first glance. But it makes sense when taking into account the post-truth context in which Alba-Juez & Lachlan Mackenzie (2019) situate fake news as a discursive genre. They write: “a good story that somehow touches readers’ emotions, even if it is deceiving, prevails over a true story, because the readers choose to accept as true what makes them “feel good””. In this context, ‘truthful’ and ‘real’ become hollow terms. What’s true and real is what feels good. And once you truly believe that there is a group of pedophilic, Satanist elites trying to control our politics and media, content that supports this belief might feel very good.

Down the rabbit hole

Journalistic terminology can play an important role on fake news websites. In the case of De Nieuwe Media, journalistic terminology is primarily deployed ‘above the fold’. Following the journalistic and web design tradition to place the most attention-grabbing content above the fold, it seems likely that De Nieuwe Media strategically deploys journalistic terminology here as a discursive tactic to grab the readers’ attention and lure them in with a tempting promise: the old media is untruthful and fake, but this here – the new media – is truthful and real. 

With this promise, De Nieuwe Media does not just lure readers into the disinformation and malinformation below the fold of their own website. Rather, they lure them into an extensive ecology of fake news websites, interconnected via hyperlinks and embedded content, that might deploy the same discursive tactics to lure readers deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of information disorder and conspiracy theories. The exact role journalistic terminology plays in this dynamic deserves further research. 



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Brebion, A. (2020, November 7). Above the Fold vs. Below the Fold: Does it Still Matter Today? 

De Nieuwe Media. (2021, October 29). UITLEG MISDADEN VAN HET CORRUPTE REGIEM: Waarheidskrant. 

Diggit Magazine. (2020, February 1). Indexicality.

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