Fake News Fightback

In the lead-up to the US election the stories he should have been reporting, Aaron Glantz says, were stories about how Donald Trump dodged the draft and called veterans suffering from PTSD "weak".

Two months before the election Glantz was hearing pro-Trump messages from unlikely sources - military veterans around the country, many of whom had previously voted for Obama.

"Like most journalists I didn't take it seriously, and that's on me and it's on my colleagues," Glantz told a Press Club audience at a 29 August event with his US colleague Tonya Mosley.

Glantz is a senior reporter at Reveal, the publishing platform of the San Francisco based Center for Investigative Reporting, whose investigations have sparked congressional hearings, legislative changes and high-level criminal probes in the US.

Mosley, who is a senior Silican Valley reporter for public radio station KQED in San Francisco, has designed curricula and conducted research on protest coverage and implicit bias in reporting, won an Emmy award for the tele-series 'Beyond Ferguson' and been named Journalist of the Year by the Washington State Association for Justice.

As the victims of uneven economic development in the US, the veterans Glantz was in touch with felt neglected and angry, he said, and were looking for alternatives to the establishment.

In retrospect he sees he could have been educating them about what was at stake with a Trump presidency.

While a failure of detailed and local reporting helped enable Trump's win, the flipside of his attacks on press freedom, according to Glantz and Mosley, has been a real resurgence of interest in journalism in the US and a great sense of unity in the American media.

“People are now more civically engaged than ever before,” says Mosley, who sees her role as essentially that of "a civil servant".

“They are now interested in what's happening. They’re now asking questions. They’re looking up their legislators. They’re paying attention to state politics. And we’re there to provide that information for them.”

And those outlets that are giving the audience what they want, from "big legacy organisations" like the New York Times, to small public ones, are seeing the benefits of that, Glantz and Mosley say.

The 'Fake News Fightback' event was jointly hosted by the Melbourne Press Club and the Walkley Foundation as part of Storyology.




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