According to a recent survey conducted by The Meredith Poll, 88.4 percent of North Carolinians think fake news confuses Americans about politics and government. This statistic and other findings from the survey led to the organization of the Fake News Forum hosted by Carlyle Campbell Library on March 15.
The forum, sponsored by Carlyle Campbell Library in partnership with The Meredith Herald staff, included a panel of experts and students from the fields of political science and communication, as well as research librarian Amanda Sullivan.
Sullivan said that debunking fake news begins with asking the following questions: What is the tone of the article? Does it seem biased? What are the author’s credentials? As a research librarian, it is Sullivan’s job to educate students on how to find credible sources to do their research; which is why the topic of fake news is important to her.
“Research your author,” said Sullivan. “Research and critical thinking are the most important things you can do when trying to determine whether or not the news you’re reading is fake.”
Students, faculty, and staff from all departments across campus came to hear the panel’s insight on how to tell the difference between fake and credible news and the impact it is having on today’s society.
Grace Giustiniani, ’20, said that the forum was helpful because it made her think twice about where she gets her news. “I don’t always have time to watch the news, so I usually have to get it from social media,” she said. “I realize now that it’s important to fact check and research my sources before accepting something as the truth.”
Media expert and Associate Professor Doug Spero, who represented the communication department on the panel, stressed the importance of using multiple media outlets to receive news. “Don’t be a single media outlet consumer,” he told students. “Being a good citizen means absorbing different accounts of information.”
Assistant Professor of Political Science Whitney Manzo, who was also on the panel, agreed with Spero in that it’s important to follow both left and right wing authors and publications. Manzo also advised students to check unbiased sources such as Snopes and Politifact to verify news.
When asked on how to stop fake news from spreading and becoming a greater problem, Manzo told students that they should instead focus their energy on trying to educate their peers on the topic. “Political and journalistic tricks have always been around and they will continue to be,” she said.
“Instead of trying to tame that monster, educate yourself and your peers on what is and isn’t a credible source. And when you discover a source isn’t credible – you can simply choose not to read them anymore.”
By Cailyn Clymore, ’18
Watch The Meredith Minute by Jeffrey Waller, head of research and instruction for Carlyle Campbell Library, on how to evaluate information on the internet.