March 2, 2017

Journalism to host sessions on the press, presidency and ‘fake news’


In a world where the President of the United States regularly invokes the term “fake news” to minimize coverage or outlets he doesn’t like, what are reporters doing in pursuit of objective truth? How do media outlets maintain a watchdog role with an administration that openly deploys “alternative facts?” What’s the purpose of “fake news,” anyway – and how can news consumers discern between what’s true and what’s not in what has become a sharply polarized nation?

Journalists from national media outlets Washington Post, Slate and Vox will join researchers, educators and others during a March 10 daylong discussion on the topic at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The event, “Liberty: The Press and the Presidency in the Post-Truth Era,” is hosted by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Maria Marron, dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, said it is critically important for journalism colleges to question what is happening to the media and news in today’s political environment.

“This conference grew out of a discussion with (Associate Professor of Broadcasting) Rick Alloway immediately after the election,” she said. “We each had the idea that the discord between the polls and related news coverage and the outcome of the election merited exploration. The seismic shift in the White House’s attitudes toward the press and the emergence of ‘fake news’ since November are incredibly significant for journalism and for democracy. The conference will address important questions in relation to these changes.”

Speakers include Nebraska alumna Jenna Johnson, political reporter for the Washington Post, who covered the rise of Donald Trump from unlikely and unconventional GOP frontrunner to the White House; and Husker alumnus Chad Lorenz, news editor for the news and cultural-commentary website Slate.

Other presenters include Nic Dawes, deputy director for media at Human Rights Watch; Debra Mason, director of the Center on Religion and the Profession at the University of Missouri; and Alissa Wilkinson, a reporter for Vox and an associate professor at The King’s College of New York. Nebraska researchers from the College of Arts and Sciences, including Aaron Duncan of communication studies and Dona-Gene Barton of political science, also are featured.

The sessions are free and open to the public. A full schedule and list of presentations is here.