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The importance of sifting the truth from fiction

Author: perkinsk

Truthful news and information are what the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University stand for, whether it be in journalism, public relations, or advertising. This is increasingly important as faulty information has become available to more people than ever before in history. Stories with no basis in truth are coming from unreliable sources and have the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people and influence lives, elections, economies and more. There is as much fake news as actual news online, and people are quick to believe anything that looks like news. It tricks the educated, as well as the less informed.

Efforts are being made to increase media literacy and battle fake news. Facebook, for example, has recently retreated from identifying itself as a news source, putting more emphasis on family and friends posts in an effort to help distinguish fact from fiction. Locally, the Greenlee Summit at Iowa State University on April 6 will explore how fake news and social media are impacting media organizations as well as society. By bringing together industry professionals and scholars for a day, we will help address our core business of truth-telling and freedom of expression, as well as recognize the effort of those professionals at the forefront. Today more than ever legacy media practitioners and journalism and communication educators in the business of truth-telling must prevail.

We require factual information as citizens and democratic societies. Researchers indicate professional journalists and media practitioners are critical in the sifting of truth from fiction. Fraudulent news sites say strange things online but look legitimate, and professionals rather than citizens are often better equipped to spot fake news and keep it from spreading. Nevertheless, everyone needs to beware of stories with outrageous headlines from amateurish websites with odd domain names or extensions. Most importantly, we all must consult a range of sources, especially on information that seems too good, amazing or odd to be true.

The Greenlee Summit on April 6 will address the current media environment and the need for truth and ethics in reporting. Please join us. Register here:

Angela Powers is the director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University.

This piece was originally printed in the Des Moines Register on March 6: