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Truth, Fact, and the Future of Journalism (Co-hosted with StoryCode)

The Big Idea: What "truth" do we want from journalism? How will media and journalism be defined going forward? Who *should* pay and who is willing to pay for what is arguably a public service? 

Overview // 

Journalism has been explained as: 

1) “The primary purpose... is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.” (from “The Elements of Journalism”)

2) “The issue of information has always been at the center of democracy…” - Alberto Ibargüen, President of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

... How are today's technologies shaping/ altering/ augmenting these virtues, and how might this impact the role of information and truth in the future? How much does the medium impact the message (i.e., 44% of Americans use Facebook as a news source)? Why do we have such a hard time valuing things we see as ephemeral and ubiquitous, yet which are invaluable (i.e., nature/ global warming, freedom of speech)? 

Questions //

• What is the effect of “selective exposure” and our tendency towards homophily - seeking out people like us - on the news we read? Or are even shown (from our curated newsfeed)?

• Do we actually care about truth? Or just "our" truth? 

• What are strategies for overcoming bias in what we read?

• The medium is the message: How does social media and newer models of distribution impact the content itself?

• What is the future for independent or alt-media? 

• Money talks: What are alternative business models and how might this impact things like integrity, trust, readership? Why don't more people pay for journalism?

Speakers // 

• Chris Faraone (@fara1): Co-Founder of Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ), an incubator for independent media and journalists in Greater Boston, and the News & Features Editor at DigBoston. He has authored several books, including a first-hand account of the Occupy movement, and has been featured in publications such as Fast Company, SPIN, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Terry Marshall (@intelmischief): Founder of Intelligent Mischief, a creative action design lab using culture, narrative and design to hack social change, they specialize in using artifacts to spur discussion, such as their Black Body Survival Guide. Terry has been involved in social justice for over 20 years and sits on the board for the Center for Artistic Activism. And he really loves martial arts, too.

Chris Peterson (@peteyreplies) works at the intersection of digital strategy, new media, and social change at MIT. He is on the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a Fellow at the Digital Ecologies Research Project, and an affiliate of the Center for Civic Media. Chris focuses on how the internet and social media impacts the way we communicate and experience our lives.

• Catherine D'Ignazio (@kanarinka) is a scholar, artist/designer and software developer who focuses on data literacy and visualization for civic engagement and community empowerment. D'Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Civic Media and Data Visualization at in the Journalism Department at Emerson College, a principal investigator at the Engagement Lab and a research affiliate at the MIT Center for Civic Media.

Agenda //

6:30-7PM: Design Activity (led by John Carr of StoryCode*)

7-8PM: Panel Discussion + Q&A

8-8:30PM: Chit chat

*Co-Host: StoryCode //

StoryCode is an open-source community for emerging and established cross-platform and immersive storytellers, spotlighting case-studies in current storytelling innovation. 

Johnathan Carr is the Organizer of StoryCode Boston. He is also a filmmaker, media artist, native of greater Boston, and Emerson alum. Keeping him busy these days: designing video for stage, teaching intro to design, resident filmmaker at American Repertory Theater.

Resources + Food for Thought // 

• Power of fake news and propaganda when millions of people suddenly get the internet in Myanmar

• 44% of American adults gets news from Facebook

• Echo-chamber effect of curated newsfeeds that confirm existing biases, and can spur behavior, such as voting

• Bonuses tied to pageviews impacts content produced

• Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia created over 100 pro-Trump websites full of fake news, for a healthy profit

Homphily built into the system: Facebook prioritizes content posted by friends and family

Digital news has pushed the industry into a few tight clusters. So much for geographic diversity in the news

• Filter bubbles show you what you want, not necessarily what you need

• Americans' trust in mass media lowest level in Gallup polling history (as of Sept. 2016)

Tools //

Why News Literacy Matters

MOOC for news literacy, from the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism

MuckRock, lets you file, track, and share public records requests

EveryBlock, a combination of many different types of local information — from public records like crime reports, to neighbor discussions, to photos people have taken in your neighborhood.

Join or login to comment.

  • Laur F.

    Hi everyone! If you like this, you may like Civic Series events, where experts explain hot topics like Brexit, the Israel-Palestine conflict, climate change, and other things you hear about in the news. Events are non-partisan and free. We have one coming up Feb. 9th on Bitcoin, and one in April on US & the International Climate Change Agreement. Check out:

    3 · January 25

  • Karl B.

    Hello! I have a working prototype of a mobile app that I have built that attempts to break people out of their bubble some - would anyone be interested in seeing a video of it posted here?

    2 · January 13

    • Aaron G.

      Hi Karl, sounds interesting. Can you share a link here with additional information?

      1 · January 17

    • Karl B.

      Sorry for the slow response - here's a quickly made video showing off how it works:­

      1 · January 25

  • Aaron G.

    Hey everyone, Two opportunities to share, via Catherine D'Ignazio (one of the speakers):

    The Journalism Department at Emerson College is seeking to hire two full-time faculty members for a one-year appointment starting next Fall. We are reviewing applications immediately. Digital Journalism
    Description Visual Journalism

    1 · January 21

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