Onion CEO Mike McAvoy proclaimed that trust in Congress is on the rise in the US at this year’s Business Insider’s IGNITION conference.
“That’s the only place we really see trust increase,” McAvoy said, while discussing the erosion of faith in American institutions.
That’s a pretty crazy sentiment, right? Well, the truth is, McAvoy was joking. This article’s fake-out headline and lead are a perfect example of the topic he was really diving into: fake news.
IGNITION brought together major power players in the media world to get to the bottom of the topical, complex issue.
Bogus news isn’t just a nuisance on sites like Facebook anymore. It’s at a point of major political contention after the controversial presidential election.
Recently, Facebook announced its intent to pair up with fact-checking organisations to attempt to combat and bury nonsense news stories.
There are no easy solutions to the problem, and issues of free speech, censorship, and news literacy need to be considered.
To tackle this complicated web of issues, IGNITION fostered a discussion between CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, and McAvoy, with Business Insider senior editor Josh Barro leading the talk as a moderator.
Probably the best quote of the conversation belonged to Sullivan, who told the audience, “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there is such a thing as truth and facts.”
She and Barro agreed that fake news needs to be carefully defined. Barro pointed out that there are many irrelevant, “dumb” stories out there that are still factually correct. Sullivan added that biased but accurate stories also shouldn’t be categorized as fake news.
They all agreed that fake news isn’t entirely a modern-day issue.
“Conspiracy theories are as old as people talking,” Stelter said. But he added that the digital age has made it easier to create and disseminate fake stories.
McAvoy argued that the real change can be accomplished only through a change in habits among social-media users and news consumers.
“In the end, it’s people who have to make changes in their behaviour,” McAvoy said.
IGNITION‘s Fake News panel provided a timely, incisive look into a major issue in the digital world today. It’s a perfect example of the gripping conversations that Business Insider can generate by gathering tech gurus and pioneers together to hash out important problems.
So if you missed out this year, make sure to attend our flagship conference next year.
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