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Inland joins campaign to combat fake news plague

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Inland Press Association is partnering with the News Media Alliance, Local Media Consortium and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Support Real News, a national campaign to combat the proliferation of fake news—and bolster the strength of trusted news organizations. 

Support Real News aims to publicize the real harm fake news inflicts on the public, and to demonstrate the importance of real news produced by trusted news organizations and their investigative journalists. 

Initiated by NMA, the campaign calls on the public to support real news by taking such actions as subscribing to a local newspaper and supporting investigative journalism by donating to the ICIJ. 

Inland Press Association President Doug Hiemstra urged Inland members to get on board the campaign. “We wanted to show our support for this important initiative and encourage our members to participate,” said Hiemstra, executive vice president of BH Media Group. “The more news organizations participate, the greater impact we can have.”

NMA President and CEO David Chavern similarly urged its members to participate—and said the campaign is important for its members. “As the association that represents the news media industry, fighting fake news is one of the most important things the News Media Alliance can do for our members right now. Our campaign raises awareness of the damage that can be and is being caused by fake news, and to demonstrate why the continued presence of real news organizations is vital to a strong democracy.”

ICIJ Executive Director Gerard Ryle said Support Real News “echoes our mission to support and enable investigative journalism.” 

“We have all been forced to deal with fake news,” Local Media Consortium Executive Director Rusty Coats said. “Which is why we should all come together to address it.”

Support Real News kicked off March 29 with a heavy social media presence and full-page ads in print and websites of newspapers big and small across the country. There was a Facebook Live event that day with Chavern and American Press Institute Deputy Director Jeff Sonderman, deputy director of American Press Institute discussing fake news—and its big difference with journalism. 

“There’s a whole ethos that journalists follow who try to get things right…and that’s really different from the people who disseminate (fake news),” Sonderman said. “We seek to get it right.”

There is real danger in, and a sinister motive behind, such fake news as, for example, the widely disseminated and false story during the presidential campaign that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, Sonderman said. 

Among authoritarian leaders, he noted, “Almost always one of the first steps is to make people unable to access the media and, if they can’t do that, tell people not to trust the media.”

As for the idea that wide swaths of the mainstream media are conspiring to enforce their biases through the press, Sonderman said, “Consider which is more likely: That there are many news organizations with different owners and lots of journalists, who are not getting rich, (acting in concert)—or that there are people in power…who are trying to get you not to believe what the media says about people in power.”

The irony, Chavern noted, is that all the true information that informs the biases of many among the public comes from trusted media. “Look at all the bad things you know about people you don’t like—that came from news organizations,” he said. 

Chavern’s bottom line goal for Support Real News: “Our hope is for news media organizations to share our campaign and amplify our message, and for the public to respond by supporting real news and the journalists who make it all possible.”