A discussion about media credibility, journalistic ethics and “fake news” was hosted April 19 at ABC7 in Glendale by the Nonprofit Communications and Media Network (NCMN). The panelists included a wide range of experts who spoke openly about the issues they see in the media and their opinion on what should be done.
The panel was moderated by Andy Weisser, co-president of NCMN. The group consisted of Joel Bellman, board member of the Greater L.A. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and former journalist and political media strategist; Kevin Anderson, current events, history and English teacher at Woodland Hills Academy Middle School; Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California and Manheim Family Attorney for First Amendment Rights; Myron Levin, executive director/editor at FairWarning: News of Safety, Health and Corporate Conduct and previous L.A. Times investigative reporter; Jeff Share, UCLA Teacher Education Program faculty advisor; and Renee Washington, assistant news director at ABC7.
Eliasberg began the discussion by touching on New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case that determined in order to win a libel lawsuit, a public figure must prove that a false, negative statement about them was made with actual malice.
“It set a high standard for public figures to establish they can win a defamation claim,” said Eliasberg.
The discussion then led to the importance of readers and listeners being “media literate.”
“A big part is cultivating media literacy in society is telling apart what’s real from fake news,” said Bellman. “We have to believe in a vigorous, independent press.”
“TMZ is not a reliable news source,” said Anderson. “Not everything on the internet is true.”
To shed light on ways the media is combating opinion on fake news, Washington spoke about the ABC7 Trust Campaign, established to sort through what’s real and what’s fake and bring truth to the audience.
“It has definitely required us to work harder in the newsroom,” said Washington. “We have to triple—even quadruple—check everything now.”
The panelists also commented on ways students learn to consume news.
“As a teacher at UCLA, we teach students to build skepticism on all information,” said Share.
Regarding the impact of cellphone culture and the media’s constant competition to capture the public’s attention, many suggested it was the influence of entertainment that caused a diminishing attention span and interest for serious news.
“We have become an entertainment society,” said Levin. “People are not upset over being propagandized.”
The discussion was followed with a tour of the newsroom where participants of the event got a chance to meet Phillip Palmer and Leslie Sykes of the ABC7 Morning Show.
By Joanna Ramos for NCM Network
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Annual media mixer: Wednesday, June 21 6-8pm
CBS Studios, 4024 Radford Ave, Studio City, 91604