Tag Archives: fake news

Harry Browne, lecturer at the School of Media at Dublin Institute of Technology 

In Village magazine…

DIT lecturer Harry Browne writes:

media (like healthcare) have a capitalism problem, and that everything from fake news to clickbait to inadequate investigative resources to Denis O’Brien flows from that basic source. But you don’t have to agree with me and name the underlying problem as capitalism to understand that there are structural causes for crises such as the one that erupted recently over Government ‘advertorial’.

“I believe the Government is attempting to exploit the difficulties many local and regional titles are facing to promote their party interests”, said no less a media critic than Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley, the party’s spokesman on communications. (How sweetly old-fashioned that word ‘communications’ can sound as it grapples with the changing world.)

Media literacy, if it is to be of any use, has to do more than implore us to look for the little ‘special feature’ tag on the top of a piece of paid corporate or government puffery, then to regard the ‘journalism’ below with due scepticism.

It must mean understanding ‘the difficulties’ for all journalism that operates in the current market, especially one in which technological change has accelerated existing trends toward blurred lines, and in which advertisers have alternatives to local and regional newspapers when it comes to reaching eyeballs.

If the most poignant aspect of that brief, quickly snowed-under ‘Ireland 2040’ crisis was the image of the Taoiseach issuing guidelines for labelling advertorial content – guidelines of which the most callow intern in a local newsroom should surely already be aware – we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that media have been operating at the edges of such guidelines for decades, for the benefit of advertisers looking to buy a little ersatz editorial credibility. How can this fail to be a lesson about how fragile, at best, any such credibility has become ?

As the media may or may not have told you, global research shows trust in media is in tatters – media are less trusted than governments, NGOs, businesses – and Irish people are at the mistrustful end of the distribution. In this context, media literacy can hardly consist of legacy media saying ‘trust us, not them’.

What can be done ? (Yes, short of getting rid of capitalism.) Anyone who has worked in a newsroom knows what a frightening prospect it would be to try to earn the public’s trust with transparency and accountability about our editorial practices.

On a daily basis, contingent and incomplete information is transformed into definitive statements of ringing certitude. That’s one sausage factory we don’t want you to see inside, especially since the work often consists of sticking our label on someone else’s meat.

The irony is that the technology often over-simplistically blamed for creating the journalism crisis has long offered tools for remarkable transparency, tools that most journalists have chosen to use only in limited ways…


Read in full: Capitalisteracy (Harry Browne, Village)

Earlier: The Great Irish Fake-Off

Next Thursday, April 12.

At 6pm.

In the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College Dublin.

A seminar about “fake news”, chaired by RTE’s Bryan Dobson.

RTÉ writes:

Chaired by broadcaster Bryan Dobson, this seminar will ask: what is fake news?; how can we identify it?; what can be done to combat it?; and how can we ensure our valued news services are trustworthy, and not fake?

Participating speakers include Sile Lane (Head of International Campaigns and Policy at Sense About Science), Aine Kerr (cofounder of Nevalabs), Kate Shanahan (Head of Journalism, DIT), Eugenia Siapera (Professor at DCU), Fionnan Sheahan (Editor of the Irish Independent) *cough*, Dr Linda Kiernan (Lecturer at Trinity College), RTÉ, and Ian Power (Exectutive Director of Spunout.ie)….

To register for tickets to this free event email audiencecouncil@rte.ie. Strictly two tickets per person.


Fake News: How True? An event of the RTÉ Audience Council (RTE)

Gemma O’Doherty with Gabriel Mariya, European Commissioner in charge of Digital Economy and Society; Top: the expert group. from left :Wout van Wijk with Mariya Gabriel and INM’s Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae

Following the appointment of INM editor in chief Stephen Rae to an expert group on fake news.

Luke ‘Ming Flanagan writes:

You would expect that those appointed to a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) to advise the European Commission on ‘the phenomenon of fake news, defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, grasping the international dimension, taking stock of the positions at stake, and formulating recommendations’ (to quote their own website) would be vetted to ensure they meet the very highest standards of journalistic integrity, that they hadn’t even the most remote association with anyone whose own record on media integrity was open to question.

You would be wrong.

The appointment of Stephen Rae of the Independent News Media (INM) to that European Commission HLEG was the source of major concern in Ireland, especially among those familiar with the actions of the major shareholder in INM, Mr Denis O’Brien.

Yesterday, along with award-winning journalist Gemma O’Doherty (removed from her job by Mr Rae while she was investigating police corruption), I met with Commissioner Gabriel to discuss those concerns. This is what we learned:

1) The selection process was seriously flawed;

a. Who decided on the final 39 people, from the original applicant bank of over 300? Nameless people from the European Commission services.

b. For such a critical group, who did the background checks on the applicants, the due diligence? No-one – according to the Commissioner ‘we didn’t have the resources for that’! All CVs were accepted at face value, so that – for example – someone who in their own background would have had a history of disseminating fake news, and/or incomplete news, and/or blatantly biased news, could make it onto the final group.

2) The Expert Group has produced its report, and according to the Commissioner, has now completed its mandate. Or maybe it hasn’t. Technically they’re in place to the end of the year, and in their report they have recommended that they should in fact meet again. The Commissioner would not dismiss this possibility, yet also insists they have completed their work.

3) The Commissioner isn’t remotely concerned about having someone about whom there are so many questions, not even when it was pointed out that the majority of active Irish MEPs believe this individual is a questionable appointment, at best.

Is this an acceptable appointment, is this an acceptable standard from the European Commission for making such appointments? I

n both instances I believe the answer is no, this is NOT acceptable. In the first instance I will work to end that appointment, in the second I will work to improve this practice.

Luke ‘Ming Flanagan MEP

Calls for Facebook code of practice in fighting ‘fake news’ (Kevin Doyle, Evening Herald)

This morning.

Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty and  party collegues urging Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to disband the Strategic Communications Unit with the a campaign catchphrase: Bin the Spin.

Earlier: You Spin Me Right Round

Sam Boal/Rollingnews


Hello you.



This afternoon.

A smattering of the memes currently being deployed ahead of today’s Fake News Awards from the White House.

Can this end well?

YES YOU decide



Yesterday: Meme Stream Media

This afternoon.

Just a sample of the thousands of memes prepared ahead of tomorrow’s Fake News Awards presented by US President Donald Trump.

The awards will be given to “the most dishonest and corrupt news media” at a ceremony in the White House.

Seems legit.


Seriously though, fingers crossed for The Tonight Show With Stephen Colbert



Judith Goldberger writes:

Despite all the MSM huffing and puffing about fake news and the po-faced sanctimony of media platforms such as the Irish Times, the Irish Times still publishes something they admit is not verified by a 3rd party independently. Oh, but it says “purported”. That’s OK then, innit? It’s all clicks…