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The Tools to Blunt Fake News: A brain, a mouse and a bit of honor

Panel discusses fake news
Our panel of journalists and ethicists discusses fake news.

Smart kills fake news. Read past the headline or, to put it succinctly: Click the damn links! Click on this one to hear more of the fake news prevention plan from a panel of journalists and ethicists convened by Davidson College.

Step two is get out of your digital echo chamber. Our panel charges readers and viewers to expose themselves to new ideas and arguments they oppose. That's what makes robust, open debate.

The experts gathered in response to a January 2017 revelation that a recent Davidson graduate successfully distributed a fake news story during the presidential campaign, but the topic of fake news now dominates the real news. Facebook executives have handed over Russian-linked ads aimed at influencing the presidential election to congressional investigators and, in a reversal, a Facebook executive says the ads and their targets should be released to the public. On Yom Kippur, in early October, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg used the Jewish holiday of atonement to request forgiveness for the role Facebook has played in spreading falsehoods.

Davidson's panel offers some answers–their suggestions of the best defense against faux journalism included equipping students and citizens to strengthen their grip on truth. Even Davidson's Honor Code can be part of that toolkit, the panel suggests.

The panelists:

  • Ervin Duggan '61, former president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting System
  • Elizabeth Kiss '83, president, Agnes Scott College
  • Camila Domonoske '12, reporter, National Public Radio
  • Michael Kruse '00, senior staff writer, POLITICO
  • Sean McKeever, associate professor and chair of philosophy

Watch the full hour-long conversation.

Jay Pfeifer