With the phrase “fake news” increasingly used in jokes and memes, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics will convene a panel of journalists on Wednesday, March 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Mississippi for a conversation on the sobering truth about fake news and how the phenomenon is undercutting the foundation of our democracy.
Leading the discussion will be Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for The Washington Post, who has called on the media to retire the phrase. “‘Fake news’ has had its 15 minutes of fame,” she wrote in a column. “Let’s put this tainted term out of its misery.”
Although Sullivan agrees that the media must deal with problems like mistakes, disinformation and conspiracies, she wrote that “putting them all in a blender and slapping on a fuzzy name doesn’t move us forward.”
Before joining The Washington Post, Sullivan was the fifth public editor of The New York Times, and the first woman to hold that job. She was also the first woman to be top editor and managing editor of the Buffalo News, her hometown paper. She began there as a summer intern and went on to become a distinguished reporter and columnist before running the paper.
Joining Sullivan in the conversation will be Charles L. Overby, chairman of the Overby Center and a long-time newspaper executive. He is also the former chairman and CEO of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute. In addition, Greg Brock, a senior fellow at the Overby Center will join Sullivan, with whom he worked at The New York Times. Brock was an editor for 20 years at The Times before retiring in 2017. In his final role as senior editor for standards, he worked closely with Sullivan during her time as public editor.
A conversation about “fake news” will be impossible to have without taking into account President Trump’s use of the term, which Sullivan noted in a column in February he has used at least 400 times since becoming president. Wrote Sullivan: “It’s as simple as this: Trump doesn’t believe that the news about him is fake. No matter how many times he says it. He merely objects to the fact that it doesn’t reflect well on him.”
The program is the fourth in the Overby Center’s schedule for the spring. It is free and open to the public, like all of the center’s events. A reception will be held following the program. Free parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the Overby Center Auditorium. For more information about the event or the Overby Center, go to www.overbycenter.org.
Courtesy of The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics