University of Iowa

In the news: 'WorldCanvass' discusses fake news, international implications

October 19th, 2017
Attendees listen to a panel discussion during the World Canvass lecture at Merge on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The topic of discussion was fake news in the modern media. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Attendees listen to a panel discussion during the World Canvass lecture at Merge on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The topic of discussion was fake news in the modern media. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

By Paige Schlichte, The Daily Iowan

“Fake news” is a term that has circulated widely in public discourse in recent years, and a WorldCanvass discussion Wednesday night at MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., aimed to explore the issue of journalism and a free press in an era of growing fake news.

WorldCanvass host Joan Kjaer said the program aims to examine topics of international interest that also affect Iowans through discussions by panelists such as community members, university faculty, researchers, and other experts.

The discussions are recorded and distributed as podcasts on several platforms.

“The idea comes from one of the missions of the University of Iowa’s International Program, which is to engage with the community on issues of public importance that have strong repercussions for Iowans,” Kjaer said. “This topic of fake news is so much on everyone’s mind these days, and we have a number of people here for fall residency at the International Writing Program that will be sharing their own perspective and history on this issue.”

Four current writers from the IWP shared their experiences with freedom of the press and information as journalists, poets, and fiction writers in their home countries.

A portion of the discussion, led by IWP Director Christopher Merrill and Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication David Ryfe, revolved around a possible way out of the cynicism the press is subject to.

“There’s never been more news produced, and never less of it by journalists. That’s the problem journalism finds itself in,” Ryfe said. “Along the way, audiences have fragmented, and they don’t only rely on journalists anymore to provide them news.”

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