The Danger of Fake News And This Week’s Echo Chamber

deborah pardes fake news blog


Fake news, you ask? Yes, and the Pope just got his pilot’s license. I read it on (a pop-up fake site)  But it’s not funny when the fake news invites verbal and/or physical violence. It’s happening and we’re talking about it a lot, but it’s still raining lies. We think holding up our umbrellas in unison somehow keeps those still out in the rain from getting soaked. It doesn’t.

Here’s a sampling of who’s talking about fake news this week:

NPR SF ChronicleAspen Inst.ABC News Huff PostDiane Rehm

Here’s who’s reading / watching those reports: you and me and the other 3% of America’s critical thinkers. We smoke this stuff from breakfast till midnight snacks. But the secret is not getting out. I have been in conversations with the good people of The Center for Media Literacy, NPR, my colleagues in the libraries, some new friends at The Aspen Institute – you get the picture. The dialogues are still inward. There is no mechanism that teaches people on the street the basic media literacy skills one needs to employ before they say Amen, Hallelujah in response to something they read, hear or watch.  BEFORE they buy a diet pill or vote on a proposition...

I’m producer and an activist. I’m not an academic. It’s not my style or my strength. So I’m the sprinter clinging onto this message in my hand. I’m partnering with some of the smartest people on the planet who have taught media literacy for 30 years. I'm running as fast I can to get a national teaching tour and documentary up and running by July.

Fake news is dangerous. Historians tell us that it was the spark that started our war with Spain in 1898 - when war could at least be contained. That no longer is true. We are in the fragile balance between a tweet and a boom.

What is your strength? How can you bring wisdom and critical thinking the millions of good people around this country who don’t know they’re being lied to? I have no profound insights or suggestions – just loads of encouragement for you – the above average human reading this – to find a way to either get out there and teach (thank you Common Sense Media) or support someone who is mobilizing to reach as many people as she can.

Something tells me that Ray Bradbury would make a good pundit right now.  He said that you don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture – just get people to stop reading. Just feed them simple lines and simple pictures. Then control them once their behavior reveals their addiction to your game. Dystopian? Absolutely.

We are the mighty few who are still awake, reading between the lines. At least we’re still reading. Let’s start reading ALOUD so everyone who is curious and alive and willing to listen. This is not a partisan issue by ANY stretch. This is about the true north - where facts live. Let's hand out free compasses to anyone who is willing to take them.