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Journalist conference tackles accusations of false news

Gia Berklund

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America is fast-paced; it’s her nature. We — her citizens, that is — spend our time figuring out ways to juggle work and college and kids and all of the other curveballs that life provides without fail. Most of us hopefully like to be educated on what’s going on in the world around us, but only seem to have time for the quick headlines and thirty-second videos that pop up on our social media feed. But with the recent notion that news is fake and its platforms only serve as a way to corrupt the minds of the lesser educated and gullible, concerns and questions are naturally raised. If news is fake, where do we find the truth? What platforms can we trust, if any? Is there still integrity in the world of journalism? And the one that remained at the forefront of my mind — is there still a career for me in journalism that would allow me to leave the world better than I entered it, or is it all really fake?
Over a week long conference during July in our nation’s capital, I found that many of the concerns I had were not just my own. The other 50 journalist from across the country that attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit Conference were just as worried and concerned about their future as I was. And as we listened to other journalists who spoke to us in seminars and over lunch, we learned the stories of people who were currently battling the stigma that their career stamped to their reputation.
I found that they were people just like me. A little older, for sure, and a little wiser. But they all wanted to leave the world better than they found it and to simply provide the truth to a nation desperate for it. The reality was that a few had lied, a few had made mistakes, and as a result, journalists everywhere were painted in broad strokes. It didn’t seem to matter if the journalist in question was liberal, conservative, independent, or even avoided politics as a whole, our speakers seemed to share the same struggles. They also shared a similar theme in their advice: it didn’t matter that many were skeptical of the news; at our hearts, we were journalists, and it was our job to provide the proper facts. Eventually, if they really wanted to know the truth, those skeptics would do their research and find that we weren’t all just a bunch of liars who spent our free time weaving lies simply for our own enjoyment.
The concerns that followed me from my conservative southern state melted throughout my week in Washington D.C., and gave way to a new outlook. It assuaged my fears and allowed me to return home wiser and share the knowledge I’d gained. The truth of it was that the news had never truly been fake, and those who were skeptical would eventually learn what I had. In the meantime, hopefully they’d continue to read their headlines and watch their clips, whether or not they truly believed them, and maybe they’d come to accept things in a different light.

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Journalist conference tackles accusations of false news