Jessi Hempel interviews Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski about the website's mission of debunking fake news stories, and her sense that the fake news explosion is linked to the decline in news resources: “When you’re on your fifth story of the day and there’s no editor because the editor’s been fired and there’s no fact checker so you have to Google it yourself and you don’t have access to any academic journals or anything like that, you will screw stories up.”
Joel Simon argues that the news media's failure to inform voters results not so much from its own performance as from a proliferation of social media that drowns it out: "What if technology suddenly allowed 50 different lawyers to present competing narratives to the jury? And what if evidence requirements were eliminated, such that some of the lawyers presented their arguments based on traditional evidentiary standards, while others felt liberated to make things up?"
Louise Lief discusses journalism's alienation from the public and says librarians have a remedy: "Their job is to navigate the world of information, help scholars and students get what they need, and distinguish good information from bad. They’ve faced their own technological disruptions, and have responded by developing a set of principles to help their public assess the credibility of information and use it ethically. They call this framework 'information literacy.'"
Irish journalist Brian Boyd complains about how the digital age of journalism is also becoming its confessional age, as writers grab attention with first-person stories of their secrets: "An author I know who writes unbelievably boring books that are nevertheless loved by the literary establishment told me recently that a leading UK newspaper would only interview him about his new book if he talked about his long-running and somewhat picaresque battle with alcoholism."
Deron Lee interviews Scott Reinardy, a University of Kansas journalism professor whose new book, Journalism’s Lost Generation, examines the fallout from a decade of cost-cutting in the newspaper business: "I don’t use this word lightly, but I would call it an organizational depression that’s occurring. There has been so much loss in those newsrooms. Journalists don’t necessarily just lose jobs, they lose careers and some real self-identity."
Paul Raeburn writes about the unsung heroes in recent reports of sexual harassment in academia — reporters, like Buzzfeed's Azeen Ghorayshi, who ferreted out the evidence and brought it to public attention: "Were it not for a new and brash generation of young science journalists, for whom persistent pockets of old-boy sexism within the academy are as absurdly anachronistic as an episode of 'Mad Men,' we might not know that such pockets still exist. They very much do."
There's an unexpected downside to falling oil prices, Joseph Lichterman writes — they mean wealthy donors have less cash to give: "In states such as Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, where the economy is closely tied to the energy industry, news organizations — especially smaller and nonprofit outlets — have created contingency plans and taken steps to deal with potential revenue losses and funding cuts as oil prices have dropped drastically in recent years."
The founder of InsideClimate News, David Sassoon, discusses how non-profit journalism outlets like his are different from — and in some ways better than — legacy news media: "Nobody is in it for the money. There are no shareholders to satisfy. No media mogul can find a way to milk it dry. If a non-profit generates income, it gets plowed back into more journalism. Serving the public interest is its sole function, the practice of journalism in its noblest expression."