Friday Reads: The Encyclopedia of Journalism

Are you aghast at the prevalence of fake news swirling around? How is one to distinguish it from the real thing? Just in time, the library offered an  enlightening presentation by news professionals on how to spot fake news, and a blog that offered resources to help. One of these resources is The Encyclopedia of Journalism (REF 070.4 ENC 2009). Here you’ll find reliable, credible information, written by academics, to fill in some of the blanks you may encounter in reading the news. Need some background on what exactly is Al Jazeera? Maybe you’re wondering what the relationship is between the Supreme Court and the press? You’ll find it here.

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With all the misinformation swirling around, what is happening to our society all of a sudden? If you think today’s fake news is a new phenomenon, open volume 4 of the encyclopedia to the News Scandals section (page 1273) and discover prominent journalists of the past who plagiarized, fabricated, and otherwise misled their readers in well-known publications. Some even won Pulitzer Prizes before their fake news was discovered. It doesn’t sound all that different from today, except fake news lately seems to be seeping from every imaginable direction.

In the end it’s all about ethics. The press has a tradition of self-regulation. Yet there often is friction surrounding things like what is the truth and the right to know versus privacy issues. Volume 5 presents some key documents that reflect the ongoing struggle between journalists and the public and the courts to define where journalists’ professional rights end and legal restrictions begin.

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