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satirical fake news + the politics of the fifth estate

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Ian Reilly

on 26 July 2011

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Transcript of satirical fake news + the politics of the fifth estate

satirical fake news
& the politics of the fifth estate

"what exactly is fake news?"
comedy, satire, parody?
or some strange hybrid/amalgamation?
first suspect: real fake news
political journalism?
journalism in crisis
even when journalists are serving as a critical check on power ...
"We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." - Ron Suskind, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush” (2004)
unprecedented expansion of cross-media ownership
journalism becomes subservient
to the needs of commercial interests
a mere business venture
in a sea of other corporate activity
these shifts profoundly compromise the citizenry's ability to make "educated political choices that can improve our quality of life and the greater social good (pamela jackson)
"rich media, poor democracy" (robert mcchesney)
"Every hiring decision is scrutinized using a skewed, unspoken ratio of talent to attractiveness, where attractiveness often compensates for a glaring lack of other qualifications." - Former CTV Quebec City Bureau Chief, Kai Nagata ("Why I Quit My Job")
"On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge."
======> #politics
In 2005, at least twenty federal agencies under the Bush administration would circulate hundreds of fake television news segments to local stations; the estimated cost: $250 million
two dominant modes of government:
propagandizing the public & keeping the public in the dark
Under the Harper government, cabinet ministers are routinely muzzled and communications to the press and the Canadian public are deliberately withheld in the interests of shutting down journalistic and civic inquiry
[ Under Harper, journalists must submit a “message event proposal” & be vetted by the Privy Council Office before they can speak with a cabinet official ]
what about “real news”?
journalists are meant to be watching, questioning, analyzing, and informing the public on matters of grave importance
a press driven by capital cannot be expected to deliver an incisive critique of the economic system (or society at large) because a “capital-driven press [does] not have as its aim to be a watchdog over the system of which it is a part. watchdogs do not bite their owners” (nerone et al.)
“There is nothing inherently deceptive about issuing a news release,” Stauber and Rampton argue, but the failure to disclose the news release’s funding source is a flagrant breach of the implicit contract between the journalistic establishment and consumers of news.
comprised of citizen journalists, bloggers, politicians,
agencies, researchers, and media organizations
-----> why we need a #fifthestate:
(1) traditional news sources often fail to meet basic journalistic standards and (2) the press is often unwilling to fulfill its duties as civic watchdog.
serve an important role in offering independent and alternative views ill-afforded in the mainstream press;
its vital function is to complement and help sustain the embattled fourth estate
who exactly are these watchdogs?
“You’re doing theatre when you should be doing debate.
You have a responsibility to the public discourse and you fail miserably.”
“Over the last five years you people were so good, over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.”
why important?
(1) draws attention to news media’s overblown emphasis on entertainment values (the dominant register of election coverage)
(2) addresses the future impact electronic voting machines may have on the democratic process
fabricate news stories through more traditional media like websites and newspapers
create media hoaxes that become the subject of much media scrutiny
reframe public discussion on issues that rarely enter mainstream media reports
“we can begin to make the news in this paper the news in every paper.” #utopia
the satirist “is always acutely conscious of the difference between what things are and what they ought to be” (pollard)
what are we really talking about?
a re-conceptualization of how news is gathered, written, disseminated, and consumed.
unlike the onion/the daily show/the colbert report, the yes men actively court the reader in the interests of transforming everyday citizens into politically engaged individuals committed to bringing about social change
the "so what?" re: #satiricalfakenews
(1) incites laughter and reflection;
(2) critiques existing news codes, conventions, and ideologies;
(3) reminds both journalists and citizens that the principles of the fourth estate are still very much in demand.
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