NPR's Montanaro Cites Dangers of Fake News

Mar 29, 2018

by Olivia Collins ’18

Domenico Montanaro, NPR’s Lead Editor for Politics and Digital Audience, was featured as the second of three Distinguished Speakers in Florida Southern College’s 2018 Child of the Sun Lecture Series on March 16.

In a discussion centered on navigating the media landscape of a post-truth era, Montanaro focused on the concept of “fake news” in today’s media circuit, expressing that fake news can have dangerous consequences.

“It’s amazing what’s happened in the break up of the media and niche pieces of information that we get now,” Montanaro said.  “If you believe something, you can go to some website and it will tell you you are right, no matter what it is, and that’s really dangerous.”

Montanaro noted a 1-to-1 ratio of real to fake news on social media networks, highlighting Facebook in particular. He stated, “as long as there’s a link, then we’re believing it,” even if the information is completely false.

The program, titled “Stand with the Facts,” was moderated by Dr. Brad Hollingshead, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and sought to explore how we can respond to post-truth in our society. “Post-truth” describes a situation in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

“It’s important to have self-reflection and be self-aware,” Montanaro advised. “Realize what your biases are, what you grow up with and how you understand things… to realize how to adopt and adapt to situations.”

The final lecture of the 2018 Child of the Sun Distinguished Speakers Series will take place on April 10 at 7 p.m. in Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. Josh Earnest, former White House Press Secretary, will lecture about “Decoding the New Political and Media Landscape.”