Sensationalism is scarcely new in the history of American journalism, and the circulation wars of the early 20th century contributed to the rise of “yellow journalism,” as William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer and the other media tycoons of the era fought for the eyeballs of an expanding American readership. Today’s “fake news” also has its roots in new struggles about circulation, though in this case, the circulation of news is through social networking sites. The role of “fake news” in the past presidential campaign has been hotly contested, with the current administration accusing CNN and the New York Times as publishers of “fake news,” while others point to the role that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms played in blurring the line between reliable and questionable media sources.
Fake news thrives because it is often more emotionally targeted than traditional journalism because it is designed to shock and outrage its readers, and because it often conveys what people living in filter bubbles already believe to be true about the world. Fake news is news that has been manufactured to spread like wildfire without regard to its accuracy or its consequences.
What do we know about fake news and the people who produce and consume it? What does it tell us about the place of journalism in the era of algorithmic culture and social media? What efforts are being made by social media companies to take responsibility for their role in the spread of misinformation? What alternatives for journalism are emerging within the same environment to insure more trusted curatorship over news and information? How are the struggles over what constitutes “fake news” shaping our current political realities?
Moderated by: Henry Jenkins, Co-director, Transforming Hollywood; Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education, University of Southern California
Panelists: Mark Andrejevic, Professor of Media Studies, Pomona College/ Brooke Borel, Journalist and Author of The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking/
Hannah Cranston, Host and Executive Producer, ThinkTank; Guest Host, The Young Turks/ Jon Passantino, Deputy News Director, BuzzFeed News/
Ramesh Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Information Studies and Design/Media Arts, UCLA/ Laura Sydell, Correspondent, Arts Desk, NPR.