Friday, August 11, 2017

South Dakota journalists concerned that 'fake news' meme from D.C. hurts their credibility, too

Tim Waltner, Freeman Courier; Dave Bordewyk, S.D. Newspaper Assn.; Jeremy Waltner,
Courier publisher; Jonathan Ellis, Argus Leader; Cara Hetland, S.D. Public Radio;
 Karen Sherman, KELO-TV; Terri Finneman, S.D. State University (SDNA photo)
Better journalism is the best answer to the "fake news" meme that has spread to rural journalism from the national political conversation, a news-media panel told about 60 people at the Freeman Chautauqua on July 29, Dana Hess of the South Dakota Newspaper Association reports in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

“I think journalists are going to get better,” said Cara Hetland, news director of South Dakota Public Radio. "She said journalists need to hear from more people like former Gov. Bill Janklow who was noted for holding reporters accountable if he didn’t agree with their reporting," Hess reports.

"While national news organizations are often on the receiving end of the fake news label, notably from President Donald Trump, it has worked its way into South Dakota," Hess writes. "Jeremy Waltner, publisher of the Freeman Courier, said a reader labeled as fake news his reporting about a school board decision to ask for a property tax opt out. While he had once 'scoffed' at fake news as a problem for larger news outlets, now 'It’s in my inbox,' Waltner said. 'This is having an impact, folks, on everybody.'”

SDNA Executive Director David Bordewyk said if journalists were more open and transparent about how they report and write stories, they could “go a long way to debunking” the use of "fake news" as a criticism of them and their news outlets.

The real, original meaning of "fake news" was false stories, usually written to gain audience. That remains a problem on social media, where people don't like to be told that posts they share are untrue.
“People don’t want to be told that what they believe isn’t right,” she said. “They get their fur up a little bit and get defensive.” But she said pointing out the truth would slow the spread of fake news, and "advised people who question the veracity of what they read on the Internet" to check it out at, The Washington Post'The Fact Checker or, Hess reports.

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