So-called fake news is not a new phenomenon. It’s been around since the beginning of the Republic. And yet there is something different and more insidious going on when we have officials in the highest reaches of our government attempting to delegitimize the mainstream media by labeling stories that run counter to their preferred narratives as “fake news.” Yet there is fake news. Lots of it. Conspiracy theories abound like weeds in the garden and persist despite repeated debunking. What does this tell about ourselves and what are the implications for our democracy?
Each fall, Mass Humanities brings a stellar group of scholars, journalists, and public officials together for a series of public conversations examining fundamental aspects of our democratic culture. Past symposia have focused on the Presidency, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Supreme Court, the role of the media in our democracy, military and civic culture in America and the Internet and democracy, economic inequality, and racial conciliation. This talk focuses on the effect of "fake news" on our democracy.
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BIO: Claire Wardle
Claire Wardle (@cward1e) is the Director of First Draft, a non-profit dedicated to finding solutions to the challenges associated with trust and truth in the digital age. She was previously the Research Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, head of social media for the UN Refugee Agency and Director of News Services for Storyful. She is one of the world’s experts on user-generated content, and has led two substantial research projects investigating how it is handled by news organizations. She also sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Information and Entertainment.
BIO: Marnie Shure
Marnie Shure (@marnieshure) joined the staff of The Onion in July 2012 after a brief stint with Fantastic Transcripts in Boston and rose rapidly through the ranks to become Managing Editor in April 2017. A graduate of Knox College with a degree in creative writing and French, Marnie also has a Publishing Certificate from the University of Denver Publishing Institute.
BIO: Charles Ferguson
Charles Ferguson is the founder and president of Representational Pictures, Inc., and director and producer of No End in Sight: The American Occupation of Iraq (2007) and Inside Job (2010), the story behind the Great Recession which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Ferguson is also a software entrepreneur, writer and authority in technology policy. A graduate of Lowell High School, he earned a BA in mathematics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in political science from MIT. Ferguson conducted postdoctoral research at MIT while also consulting to the White House, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Defense, and several U.S. and European high technology firms.