Straight Talk 2017: Media and Politics in a Post-Truth Era

Thursdays: August 24, 31 and September 7, 2017

Presented in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Furman

In the digital era, spreading made-up news and propaganda is easy—and often profitable. Why is it that false stories are shared so frequently and believed by so many of us? What does this say about the future of real journalism, fact-based news and how the public understands the country’s politics and policies?

For three Thursday evenings in August and September, the Riley Institute and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute examined the rise of fake news and propaganda with the annual StraightTalk series.

Media and Politics in a Post-Truth Era was sold out with crowds ranging from 600 – 1,800 people each week. Sessions explored why we are so easily duped, how false stories impact politics and real news, and what we can do to fight back against the constant barrage of misinformation.

Session 1 | The Rise of Fake News: How, Why, and What’s at Stake

Fake News and Filter Bubbles: Who is shaping public opinion?

Featuring

  • Jason Tanz, site director, WIRED, Understanding Today’s News Ecosystem
  • Jonathan Albright, PhD, research director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, What’s at Stake: The future of journalism and our democracy
  • Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of News and editorial director, NPR

Read Speaker Bios

Session 2 | Alternative Facts and Partisan Media: Missing Walter Cronkite

Keynote: One Anchor’s View of the 2016 Presidential Election and the Role of Fake News 

Featuring

  • Chuck Todd, moderator of “Meet the Press” and NBC News political director
  • Katrice Hardy, executive editor, The Greenville News, and SE regional editor, USA Today Network
  • Bob Inglis, former member of U.S. House of Representatives, S.C.’s 4th district

Read Speaker Bios

Session 3 | Winning the Information War: Where do we go from here?

Do Facts Still Matter?

Featuring

  • Alexios Mantzarlis, director, International Fact-Checking Network, Poynter Institute
  • Erika Hobbs, communications director and Chicago program manager, News Literacy Project
  • Charles Bierbauer, professor, University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and former veteran political correspondent
  • Nigel Robertson, anchor and reporter, WYFF News 4

Read Speaker Bios

August 24: The Rise of Fake News: How, Why, and What’s at Stake

Moderator


Danielle Vinson, PhD

Danielle is professor of political science specializing in media and politics, the American presidency and American government. She is the author of two books Local Media Coverage of Congress and Its Members and Congress and the Media: Beyond Institutional Power and numerous articles and chapters relevant to media and politics. She is often called upon by local, national, and even international press, especially during presidential primaries, to make sense of South Carolina politics (not quite as impossible as it sounds). A graduate of Furman University, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University.
 
 

Speakers


Jason Tanz

Jason is WIRED’s site director, where he leads digital strategy. He has worked at WIRED for a decade, where he also served as executive editor and editor-at-large. He has written dozens of stories for WIRED, including features about machine learning, the economics of Netflix, Internet celebrity, videogame auteurs, and the future of the news. A graduate of Brown University, Jason’s work has also appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Esquire, and other publications, and he is the author of Other People’s Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America.

Since 1993, WIRED has both covered and led the digital revolution, and it has become the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation.
 


Jonathan Albright, PhD

Johnathan is research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. Jonathan has conducted cutting-edge research around networks of propaganda and misinformation, and his research into the use of platforms such as YouTube to proliferate high volumes of automated misinformation has been featured across a broad range of publications including The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Fortune. Jonathan’s understanding of how technologies are being deployed and networked through social platforms to create an ecosystem of targeted misinformation is central to understanding current issues affecting both politics and journalism.
 
 


Michael Oreskes

Michael is NPR’s senior vice president of news and editorial director. A recipient of three Pulitzer prizes and three Emmy awards, Oreskes leads an award-winning team of journalists and seasoned newsroom executives. He has 40 years of professional journalism experience, ranging from reporter to senior managing editor, and expertise in shepherding the transition of traditional media to multi-media enterprises. Oreskes is also a frequent speaker, defending and promoting the value of a free and independent press and its essential role in today’s democracy. Oreskes is co-author (with Eric Lane) of The Genius of America, How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Again. He earned his BA from City College of New York.
 
 

August 31: Alternative Facts and Partisan Media: Missing Walter Cronkite

Moderator


Danielle Vinson, PhD

Danielle is professor of political science specializing in media and politics, the American presidency and American government. She is the author of two books Local Media Coverage of Congress and Its Members and Congress and the Media: Beyond Institutional Power and numerous articles and chapters relevant to media and politics. She is often called upon by local, national, and even international press, especially during presidential primaries, to make sense of South Carolina politics (not quite as impossible as it sounds). A graduate of Furman University, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University.
 
 

Speaker


Chuck Todd

Chuck is the highly successful host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the #1 most-watched Sunday show and the longest running show in television history. A passionate political journalist, Todd zeroes in on what really matters in Washington and why. Todd is known for holding politicians and newsmakers accountable, and his interviews and deep-sourced reporting consistently drive headlines. In 2016, he held deep-dive interviews on “Meet the Press” with top political power players including Sec. Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Gen. Colin Powell, and then-candidate Trump, whom Chuck interviewed a total of 18 times during his campaign.

In 2007, Tim Russert, then-Washington bureau chief and “Meet the Press” moderator, recruited Chuck to join NBC News as the network’s political director – a title Chuck still holds proudly today. Prior to taking the helm of “Meet the Press” in September 2014, Todd served as NBC News chief White House correspondent (2008-14), traveling around the world with President Obama and reporting on the main pillars of his presidency. In January 2012, GQ magazine named Todd “The Most Powerful Journalist in Washington.”

 

Discussants


Katrice Hardy

Katrice is the executive editor of The Greenville News and the Southeast regional editor for the USA Today Network.  At The News, she leads a team of journalists who strive every day to provide impactful journalism that reaches people where they are, including social platforms, podcasts, and community forums. She formerly worked at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va, where she started as an intern and left as the news organization’s managing editor. A graduate of Louisiana State University, she is a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists, where she has mentored and worked with younger journalists and students.

 


Bob Inglis

Bob served in Congress from 1993-1999 and again from 2005 – 2011, representing South Carolina’s fourth district. A strong conservative, he relies on facts in his decision-making.  In 2011, he began full-time promotion of free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University in 2012. For his work on conservative solutions to climate change, he received the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Inglis is a graduate of Duke University and University of VIrginia School of Law.

 
 

September 7: Winning the Information War: Where do we go from here?

Moderator


Danielle Vinson, PhD

Danielle is professor of political science specializing in media and politics, the American presidency and American government. She is the author of two books Local Media Coverage of Congress and Its Members and Congress and the Media: Beyond Institutional Power and numerous articles and chapters relevant to media and politics. She is often called upon by local, national, and even international press, especially during presidential primaries, to make sense of South Carolina politics (not quite as impossible as it sounds). A graduate of Furman University, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University.
 
 

Speakers


Alexios Mantzarlis

Alexios leads the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network. In this capacity, he writes about and advocates for fact-checking, and trains and convenes fact-checkers globally. Mantzarlis previously served as managing editor of Pagella Politica and FactCheckEU, respectively Italy’s main political fact-checking website and the European Union’s first multilingual crowd-checking project. A graduate of the University of York, he possesses an M.S. in economics and management from Bocconi University and an M.A. in European affairs from Sciences Po Paris.

A global leader in journalism, the Poynter Institute—in 2016 alone– trained journalists from 126 countries and forged training partnerships with more than 20 major media organizations, including Gannett, Google, National Geographic and Univision.
 


Erika Hobbs

Erika is the News Literacy Project’s communications director and program manager in Chicago, where she also oversees classroom programs. She has written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Center for Public Integrity, and The Baltimore Sun. She also spent five years at the Orlando Sentinel, where she covered the nation’s 10th largest school district. A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago with a master’s from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Erika has nearly completed her coursework toward a doctorate in communications, with a focus on the redefinition of news in a digital age.

The News Literacy Project (NLP) is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age.
 


Charles Bierbauer

Charles spent more than 30 years as a journalist, covering five presidential campaigns during his 20 years as a CNN political correspondent and reporting as Moscow and then Bonn Bureau Chief during his four years as an ABC News foreign correspondent.  He is a professor in the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he served as dean from 2002 until July, 2017. His research focuses on the intersection of media and politics, and he serves on the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission task force on media. Bierbauer received a B.A in Russian and a B.A. and M.A. in journalism from The Pennsylvania State University.
 

Discussant


Nigel Robertson

Nigel has been an anchor and reporter at WYFF News 4 for nearly 18 years. In 2005, he won an Emmy award for specialty reporting, taking viewers inside Marine boot camp.  He has also received Emmy nominations for business and spot news reporting. Known for his unbiased reporting, Nigel is one of a very few journalists to be granted a duel sit-down interview with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Nigel earned his B.A. in telecommunications from Bowling Green State University.