“Fake News” Colloquium Highlights Key Media Issues

Students gathered to listen to Professor Golda’s Media and Democracy class speak about the impact of fake news on society. Photo by Brendan Capuano/Spectrum.

By Brendan Capuano 

Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, Feb. 28 Sacred Heart University students and faculty organized a colloquium to address the issue of fake news.

Professor Gregory Golda’s Media and Democracy class organized “Media Matrix – Fake News, Real Problem.”

The colloquium was an hour long multi-media production featuring student presentations, lectures, interviews, as well as questions and answers with a panel of Sacred Heart School of Communication and Media Arts (SCMA) faculty.

“The term fake news is being used by powerful individuals to challenge any journalism that holds them accountable,” said Dr. Bill Yousman, Assistant Professor and Director of the Media Literacy and Digital Communications Graduate program. “The real purpose of journalism is to do exactly that, hold the powerful accountable to the people, ask the tough questions, investigate areas that the powerful would rather not be investigated.”

Fake news is a term used to describe news published by news outlets that may be entirely false, biased, or incorrect.

More recently, President Donald Trump has been tweeting that news outlets, like The New York Times and CNN, are producing fake or biased news stories.

The event, hosted by junior Faye Kenajian, began by interviewing Professor Joseph Alicastro, Coordinator of News & Broadcasting in the Masters in Communications (MACOMM) program.

Alicastro spoke about his 30-plus years of experience as a journalist working as a producer for NBC News, and how fakes news’ role in society has affected the way that people see the news industry.

“The information was new and exciting and I really believe that creating this colloquium and sharing it with students allowed them to learn a lot about this important subject in our society today,” said Kenajian.

Alicastro reflected on how fake news’ definition has changed and how it can be detrimental to today’s society.

“Fake news is discrediting the good journalists doing the hard, legitimate work,” said Alicastro during the colloquium.

Some students also thought it addressed an important issue that will continue to affect current journalists and journalism students in the future.

“I think this colloquium was really important for Sacred Heart students to attend. It really showed the impact that fake news has on our society,” said sophomore Allison Desilets. “It told us how we should educate ourselves and how each of us individually can impact the future of news in our society.”

Students presented videos including a highlight reel from an interview with Professor Richard Falco, Coordinator of Multimedia Journalism. A video was also presented by senior Christian Colon debunking a fake news meme, which was heavily circulated on Facebook.

There was also a presentation which offered tips on how to identify a reliable news source, fact check, and declare a source as fake news.

“I was able to see how much work goes into putting information together and working as a team to be able to produce a great show,” said Kenajian. “I was the host and everyone was willing to share their information and opinions, and since there were so many different segments it really kept the students involved and interested.”

Yousman also spoke about the importance of media literacy and knowing how to identify the flaws in the media and acknowledging the truth.

“I believe media literacy is essential for all citizens and it will increasingly be recognized as a crucial component from elementary to higher education and beyond,” said Yousman.

The colloquium is available to watch online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mad2KtVb5qM.

“I was very happy to take part in the SCMA colloquium on fake news because this issue is central to our future as a functioning democracy,” said Yousman.

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