chapter  5
12 Pages

Finding and following the facts in an era of fake news

WithCarey Gillam

Today, on radio, television, and now the Internet, even legitimate news reporters often provide us instantaneously with raw information, without taking the time to check their facts. And much worse, we live at a time where anyone can say anything on the Internet, claiming truth and even pretending to be a legitimate source of news. “Strategic subversion of truth has become ever more sophisticated in recent decades, and with the rise of social media and the ever-growing power of Internet-based outlets as information-providers, sorting fact from fiction has grown more difficult,” explains the author of the chapter, who won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award in 2018 for her book Whitewash – The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science. This chapter analyzes climate change coverage, showing the conflict between relevant science and fake news. It reports that at one time, Facebook actually hosted a page called “Why Climate Change is Fake News,” noting that “Facebook generally has been used as a platform to disseminate false information about an array of issues.” The chapter goes on to provide three case studies of how investigative journalists “charted reporting paths through thickets of falsified narratives and/or suppressed science to get to the facts of important environmental stories.”