Local News

UNC prof: Journalists must 'explain their value' amid fake news

Posted January 11
Updated January 12

— News reporters became part of the story once again during a Wednesday news conference with President-elect Donald Trump.

Using the term “fake news,” Trump expressed his anger at a couple of news outlets that reported on unverified reports that Russia had compiled compromising information on him. Many other news agencies chose to hold back on the story.

“It’s hard for me to second guess what they have done, but I am almost willing to be patient and wait out to see whether what we are seeing is accurate,” said University of North Carolina journalism professor Ryan Thornburg.

Thornburg said in a time when all kinds of information is everywhere and anybody can be a publisher, people need to think twice about the information they distribute.

“Everybody today has to act like a journalist. They have to step back and think about what they are reading and question everything,” he said.

Thornburg said the changing financial side of the news business and changes brought on by the internet age are contributing factors in the recent "fake news" phenomenon. They all lead to distrust, but Thornburg said there are also positive changes because reporters are talking more about how they know what they know.

“It is harder to control the flow of information,” he said. “The good side of this is the reporting process is becoming more transparent.”

As the flood of information around us grows deeper, Thornburg said the good journalists need to make their case with each story they tell.

“You have to explain your value to the American people,” Thornburg said.

CNN stands by how it handled the Russia report. They said they did not release the unverified documents.

Thornburg said news is the first draft of history and, with time, the full picture often emerges.


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  • Thom Stark Jan 12, 2017
    user avatar

    Well the granddaddy of all the lies and the supposed first was Cronkite's erroneous reporting on the Tet offensive in 1968. Then just google Dan Rather. Locally look at the N&O's interview of Fred Heinemann, this is all nothing new. it is just people are finally calling them on it.

  • Thom Stark Jan 12, 2017
    user avatar

    Okay, if they are creating fake news how can they have any value? CNN used to be a good source when cable 1st hit the airwaves. Now it is an hour of bashing Trump, looking for lost airplanes and if it bleeds it leads. I am expecting to see a print version of CNN in the supermarket check out lines:)

  • Michael Bawden Jan 12, 2017
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Who writes those algoritms? R2 D2?
    Liberal programmers at Google write those algorithms. They can manipulate those search engines any way they want to.

  • Anna Temple Jan 12, 2017
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    Wow I did not realize there was so much fake news out there. Other than this Trump news incident can someone give me examples of fake news we are seeing everywhere that I may not be aware of.

  • Roger Connor Jan 12, 2017
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    Once upon a time, the various news media tried very hard to present FULL, UNBIASED information in articles, and presented their opinion in editorials. During my life, that has changed to the point that a story or article must be verified from other sources (ie most of the US reports are from AP, and must be also reported by Reuters, or a foreign or independent source) in order to actually be considered to be somewhat factual. THIS INCLUDES VIDEOS which have been "staged," "altered" and or "edited" to provide the media's POV. Cell camera footage from several people posted to the internet have FREQUENTLY shown a different story than the "official" version. At this point, I don't bother with MSNBC/NBC or NPR, seldom bother with Fox, CNN, CBS, or ABC, infrequently scan the "headlines" by the BBC and download the AP/Reuters news feeds to my computer. I am TOTALLY uninterested in ANYTHING the "talking heads" of the networks have to say about any subject. This post is due to seeing UNC Prof.

  • Michael Bawden Jan 12, 2017
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    Liberals own the phrase "fake news". They did so when Fox News came out as a conservative news station. When liberals started getting exposed by this channel, liberals labled the network "Faux News". This attempt to discredit the network failed miserably. Liberal GOOGLE has Fox News be the first sight returned when searching "faux news". Even though exact matches are below. Liberalism on display.

  • Jeff Freuler Jan 12, 2017
    user avatar

    Fake news or not when someone holds a press conference says they are not going to answer your question then stop trying to ask it so other reporters may ask a question. Jim Acosta was VERY rude and was acting like a male donkey because he wasn't getting his way

  • Thom Stark Jan 12, 2017
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    One the BBC is no friend of any Conservative, and they, like the rest of the media are trying to discredit Trump with lies and half-truths. Now because of their IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR, anyone with intellect does not take any reporting as truthful or objective.

    This hysteria of hate over President Trump has gotten to the point of being mentally unbalanced by the people pursuing and furthering the hysteria.

    Any day now I am expecting the media to claim Grayson Allen is being made to trip players by Donald Trump. The reporting has gotten that embedded with nonsense and crazy.

    Like during the campaign, his opponents know REAL CHANGE is coming for the betterment of true Americans, and they cannot tolerate the ensuing outcome. It will be confirmed that government has always been the problem and the media will be rendered irrelevant.

  • Edwin Duncan Jan 12, 2017
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    So CNN says the reports are unverified but they are willing to publish the most damaging sexual allegation as did the N&O and WRAL. BBC knew about the story but did not publish the sex angle as they could not get the tape and verify plus they had questions about how possible it was to have gotten the tape. However, BBC's story is much more concerning as they have better information on investigations on possible Russian money transfers to Trump. Here is the BBC story for anyone who cares - http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38589427