Fake News and Surviving a Post-truth World

    We ask a journalist, media expert and psychologist for their thoughts on media literacy

    By Staff on May 19, 2017

    With Oxford Dictionaries naming “post-truth” as word of the year for 2016 and fact-checking sites registering “false” on countless politicians’ claims, many people might question whether accuracy and fact even matter anymore. And, perhaps more importantly, wonder how to sort out what’s real and what’s fabricated in their daily newsfeed.

    We asked a journalist, a media expert and a psychologist to offer their thoughts on media literacy in a post-truth world. Listen to their full panel discussion, recorded on Jan. 5, 2017.

    Jason Harley 

    “Opinion that doesn’t have an argument behind it, that doesn’t have evidence behind it, is not the same thing as a well-thought-out, documented, reflective point of view. ... [Don’t] give up on information or news. Try to become a critic rather than a cynic. Approach information from an open-minded and flexible point of view. Look for indicators that the quality of the information is high and try to suspend having an emotional reaction.”

    Jason Harley, Assistant professor, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta

    Paula Simons 

    “The real challenge in a time when newsrooms are shrinking is that we still do investigative, original journalism, that we’re not just responding. As a pundit, I never want to be the one who’s just drinking someone else’s bathwater. ... Things that prey on our fears and our paranoia, things that inspire us to fear our neighbours are often dangerously viral.”

    Paula Simons, ’86 BA(Hons), columnist, Edmonton Journal

    Tim Currie 

    “It starts with all of us challenging the people in our social networks who are sharing this stuff. ... Do people care about truth? Absolutely. I think people have an innate desire to educate themselves to be better citizens, to help out their friends and family.”

    Tim Currie, ’06 MA, Director, School of Journalism, University of King’s College