Monday December 18, 2017

Journalism in the age of fake news

A journalist poses reading a satirical fake news story on the Southend News Network website in London on March 31, 2017.

A journalist poses reading a satirical fake news story on the Southend News Network website in London on March 31, 2017. (Daniel Soragji/AFP/Getty Images)

Listen to Full Episode 53:59

Established news media no longer have the monopoly on how we consume our news, and "fake" news is proliferating. Now purveyors of false news are saturating social media, emboldened by a U.S. president who regularly derides mainstream journalists as creators of fake news. In panel discussions at the Banff Centre, part of The Democracy Project, journalists ponder reporting in an age where political leaders attack them to discredit their work.

There's nothing new about presidents and politicians from all nations taking issue with how the news media covers them. Long before Donald Trump's attacks on the media, American President Richard Nixon famously denounced the media. In tapes released by the Nixon Presidential library, on December 14th 1972, he told national security advisers Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig: "Never forget, the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy, the professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times."

Reporters have always had to work with hostile sources. But that situation seems more amped up these days.  Authoritarian leaders around the world are attacking journalists and condemning mainstream media outlets. That pressure is contributing to a chill on how reporters do their jobs. And according to Lynn McAuley, an associate editor at the Toronto Star, the attacks on them from their readership is becoming increasingly hostile. She told the Banff audience "I've been doing this almost 35 years  and I've never seen the intensity the virulence the absolute impunity with which people speak to reporters now, I have never seen that."

Guests in this episode:

Panel 1: Reporting on Hostile Sources and Illiberal Movements

  • Moderator: Peter Klein, a former producer with CBS News and 60 Minutes, now teaching journalism at the University of British Columbia, founder of the Global Reporting Centre.
  • Suzanne Reber, Executive Editor of the radio show 'Reveal' at the Centre for Investigative Reporting.
  • Gabrielle Schonder, producer and reporter with PBS's Frontline.
  • Lynn McAuley associate editor at the Toronto Star.
Banff Centre/The Democracy Project, Panel on journalism in the age of fake news

From left to right: Peter Klein, journalism instructor University of British Columbia; Susanne Reber Centre for Investigative Reporting; Gabrielle Schonder, PBS's Frontline; and Lynn McAuley, The Toronto Star. (Don Lee)

Panel 2: Journalism in the Post-Fact Age

  • Moderator: Patti Sonntag, managing editor in the New York Times News Service.
  • Garance Burke, National investigative reporter at the Associated Press.
  • Dennis Choquette, heads the Globe and Mail's enterprise desk.
  • Susanne Craig, reporter in the Investigations unit at The New York Times.
Banff Centre Panel/The Democracy Project, Journalism in the age of fake news

From left to right: Ron Nixon, New York Times; Dennis Choquette, The Globe and Mail; Patti Sonntag, New York Times; Garance Burke. The Associated Press; Susanne Craig, New York Times. (Rita Taylor)


**This episode was produced by Michael O'Halloran.