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Journalist Colleen Nelson On The Rise Of #FakeNews


It happened again this weekend: President Donald Trump tweeted about media coverage of his presidency, blasting negative reports as so-called “fake news,” and accusing reporters of “distorting democracy.”

But what exactly is real fake news, and how does a responsible news consumer go about identifying it from legitimate news sources?

That’s the subject of Colleen Nelson’s talk this evening. Nelson, the Editorial Editor for the Kansas City Star, is a former Wall Street Journal White House Correspondent and a Pulitzer Prize winner. She’ll be talking about fake news — or #fakenews — at a World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana event tonight. Listen to the interview in the player above.

On the recent resurgence of fake news, which Nelson says is very different from satire like The Onion or The Daily Show:

“Just within the last couple of years we’ve seen this proliferation of outlets emerge that are basically created to deceive and to put out information masquerading as an actual news story that is completely fiction. And some of them are simply chasing clicks and advertising dollars and others of them are promoting an agenda. But it’s a completely different landscape to suddenly have organizations spreading disinformation and confusing news consumers about what is actually a fact.”

On how to separate legitimate news from content that’s meant to deceive:

“In some ways it’s kind of a buyer beware situation, in that if you’re a news consumer you need to know what you’re clicking on and you need to actually go to the website and see if this is a familiar news organization, see if it appears credible or if this is just a story attached to a pretty shady website that is not actually producing news.”

On how the overuse of the term ‘fake news’ has created a new genre:

"You have President Donald Trump crying ‘fake news’ all the time and lots of other politicians crying ‘fake news’ all the time, so much so that they’ve kind of bastardized the term and made it somewhat meaningless. And it’s important to remember that ‘fake news’ is not just news that displeases a particular politician and is not just news that a politician thinks is biased, but fake news is actually fiction.”

Nelson is speaking Tuesday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Louisville Club and Alumni Center. The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana event is being moderated by the Managing Editor of WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, Brendan McCarthy.

KyCIR is also holding two events this week designed to help news consumers identify fake news on Wednesday morning and Saturday afternoon. 

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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