News Associates presents JournoFest 2018: Politics and Dealing with Fake News

Fake news is on everybody’s lips these days, especially those of our JournoFest ‘Politics and Dealing with Fake News’ panellists, writes sports journalism trainee Sean O’Brien.

JournoFest 2018 saw the return of two News Associates alumni in Guido Fawkes chief reporter Ross Kempsell and Business Insider political reporter Adam Payne, who – alongside Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goodall – tackle the issue of fake news in politics every day.

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L-R: Chair Andrew Greaves, Lewis Goodall, Ross Kempsell and Adam Payne

“The issue is not that fake news exists. It has always existed,” Payne began.

“The problem is the platform it now has to spread.”

Before aptly reciting Mark Twain.

“A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes,” quoted Payne.

Some politicians use fake news to their advantage, Payne explained.

“They will play that card. It’s like their joker card,” he said.

“Because trust in politicians is at an all-time low, it’s easy for the public to latch onto.”

Goodall warned we should be sceptical towards powerful figures who use the phrase to push their own agendas.

He said: “Fake news has become a tool for politicians to dismiss anything they don’t like.

“We automatically think of Donald Trump, but Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May are equally guilty.”

This was a view echoed by Kempsell.

He said: “The challenges are the same as they’ve always been: differentiating between truth and fiction.

“Fake news is about confirmation bias and reading what you want to read.

“But we mustn’t let politicians regulate it – it’s going to become a route for those in power to shut down debate by pulling out this card.”

He continued: “Be careful of who is telling you what fake news is and what their agenda is, because a space has been opened up where it can be defined by whoever wants to define it.”

While the three were all on the same page regarding fake news, Brexit split the panel.

But despite their differing views, none of them could deny the weight Brexit carries in journalism today.

Payne said: “Brexit underpins every political debate we have at the moment.

“Politics is changing and as an industry we’re still adapting to that.”

Goodall added: “Broadcast was uniquely ill-equipped for the culture war which has been turbo-charged by Brexit.

“The group of people whose views can be changed is becoming smaller.

“Whatever Brexit we have, it’ll never satisfy everyone.

“It’ll never meet the purity test – so we’ll never stop talking about it.”

Kempsell urged the audience to look at the questions Brexit poses for the journalism industry rather than arguing for either side, before Payne echoed a common view that there has never been a better time to get into political journalism.

To read about our ‘Breaking into Broadcast’ panel click here.

To read about our ‘The biggest challenges facing newsrooms in 2018’ panel click here.

To learn more about JournoFest click here

We are now interviewing for our fast-track and part-time journalism courses as well as our sports journalism courses starting this September/October – apply now.

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