Defining Fake News

What is “fake news?” According to Colorado Senator Ray Scott, “We all have our own definitions” of it; “it’s a subjective, eye-of-the-beholder thing.” But calling fake news a matter of subjective opinion is dangerous. It undermines the very idea of objectivity, and it excuses those who put bogus claims and dubious sources on the same level as proven facts and credible reporting. For the sake of rational civic discourse on which the health of our civilization largely depends, we need to to better. So what is fake news? Continue reading “Defining Fake News”

Fake News, Open Records, and the Spat between a Colorado Senator and Newspaper

How do responsible citizens interact with news media? What does good journalism look like? Is it ever fair to apply the term “fake news” to stories from otherwise reputable media outlets?

These are some of the questions that a panel of media experts addressed March 15 at a forum hosted by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (CFOIC) and moderated by Kyle Clark of Denver’s 9News. The half-hour event, in which I participated, is available through 9News’s Facebook feed, and I encourage people to listen to the discussion.

Here my goal is to touch on some of the issues we discussed, focusing on a dispute between Colorado Senator Ray Scott and the Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction. Continue reading “Fake News, Open Records, and the Spat between a Colorado Senator and Newspaper”

Fake News, Partisan News, and the Wiretapping Story

I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore, given how many crazy things Donald Trump has said and done. But I was surprised when I read about Trump’s claims that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s communications at Trump Tower prior to the election. Even if we imagine that there’s anything to these accusations, the manner in which Trump made them—in the same early-morning stream-of-consciousness Tweeting in which he discussed rumors about The Apprentice television show—is astonishing.

In tracking down details about the wiretapping story, we can also learn some lessons about fake news, partisan spin, and the difficulty of learning the relevant facts of such a story. Continue reading “Fake News, Partisan News, and the Wiretapping Story”

How Partisans Can Help Fight Fake News

Just how big of a problem is fake news? As one indication, consider that Americans currently are debating the extent to which the Russian government used “classical propaganda, disinformation, [and] fake news” (in addition to outright hacking) in an effort to influence the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential election. Glenn Greenwald argues that the Washington Post (among others) exaggerated the scope of such activities. Regardless, the fact that we’re discussing whether news about fake news is fake suggests that fake news is a real problem.

What can we do about fake news? Continue reading “How Partisans Can Help Fight Fake News”