‘Beyond Headlines and Memes’ tackles fake news

From left to right: Dr. Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, Karyn Regal, Adeja Crearer and Dr. Jonathan Silverman. (Taylor Carito/Connector)

Jason Ounpraseuth
Connector Staff

The accelerating change in media has had many news outlets put on task to present themselves as credible, especially with the term “fake news” being thrown around. This dilemma has left consumers wondering how they should consume their media in today’s age of the 24-hour news cycle.

On Wednesday, Omicron Delta Kappa presented Beyond Headlines & Memes in Maloney Hall. The panel featured Dr. Jonathan Silverman, Dr. Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, journalism student Adeja Crearer and WBZ News Radio anchor and reporter Karyn Regal. English major Abby Crossley played a moderating role.

The panel was split into four topics: How do reporters decide what to cover? Is it okay to get news on Facebook? How do reporters get our attention? What is media bias?

Regal spoke on her personal experiences covering many stories in the New England area. These types of stories were what she called subsidies that target a specific demographic.

Dr. Whitten-Woodring described the basis of news as “something unusual happening.” She said reporters have the responsibility to choose what to cover in an event.

Crearer brought up her experience at the inauguration in January and said she was shocked to see the violent riots take the headlines, even though they only occupied a small part of the protests. The panel viewed this decision as part of the 24-hour news cycle that tries to be first to a story before getting all the information.

Crossley brought up the issue of consumers getting all their news on Facebook and the danger of getting information that is like their own and in sync with their point of view.

Dr. Silverman said he does not see a problem in getting some of your news from Facebook, but did make clear that “getting all of your news on Facebook is a problem.” He said he encourages curation in how consumers get their news by going to different outlets, like newspapers and radio, to get news.

Dr. Whitten-Woodring said she agreed with this view point and added in that the “context will be different” if consumers go to different places and hear different points of view to truly get a sense of what is going on in the news and the world.

In response to the question of how reporters can get the attention of consumers, Regal said: “Good clear writing and good honest reporting…if you do a good job with the basics, people will stick with you.”

Crearer built on Regal’s points by talking about how it is important for the media to be honest. She mentions how media is a business and that headlines help grab a reader and build a first impression. The balance of honesty and business is for reporters to build credibility.

Dr. Silverman said he found complication in media bias citing the history of mainstream media being called out for being biased and finding themselves caught in a trap. He touched on how readers are interested in objective truth, but Dr. Whitten-Woodring also said that reporters are under pressure to tell a good story while also trying to be credible and unbiased.

“When I know both sides are angry, I know I’ve done a good story,” Regal said on the topic of the politically ideologies.

“Everyone wants their story to be told,” said Crearer on her experience covering political events. “People put aside their hate for the media because they want their story to be told.”

Crearer and Regal said that it is their job and goal to tell stories, and they are just out there to tell the best possible story despite personal feelings towards a subject or audience.

The panelists expressed their concerns and discrepancies with current media practices, but they offered counterpoints and ways consumers can guide themselves in the current media landscape.

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