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Recap: Talking Points Event

Mike Schaffer and Chris Ison discuss fake news.
February 20, 2017

With fake news popping up seemingly everywhere, it’s important to understand how that can impact a company’s reputation, stock price and trust levels among readers of the media.

Mike Schaffer, vice president at Edelman in Washington, D.C. and Chris Ison, associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, discussed with moderator Arik Hanson the fake news “crisis” and how it’s already impacting the corporate and media worlds during the second installment of "Talking Points: Exploring the Future of Media and Communications" on Feb. 13 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“Newspaper used to be very different. Now, everyone can produce content,” Schaffer said. “The news all looks the same to us. Nowadays when you see a headline it could be from The Economist, or The Blaze.”

Ison added that it’s crucial to choose sources carefully and to evaluate the information. “We all have this bigger responsibility and it takes time to choose wisely what we read,” he said. “You cannot be a passive reader anymore.”

Much of this goes back to teaching young people to keep going back to the source, Ison said. “It’s part of one of the beginning journalism classes [at SJMC]. Students find good, legitimate sources and research them,” Ison said. The two speakers also looked at recent examples of how the news impacts businesses. After news sites reported that Uber was going to continue service to JFK airport during the recent protests of the travel ban - despite the New York City Taxi Worker’s Alliance calling for a complete stop of pickups for an hour - the app received major backlash. 450,000 peopled deleted the app as a result.

“Businesses can do nothing wrong, but just by having a nonpartisan announcement, that was seen as partisan,” Schaffer said.  

Even Budweiser’s origin story Super Bowl commercial set off a trigger for so many people. “It’s a tough place for brands to be in,” Schaffer said.

The event concluded with questions from the audience and networking.

"Talking Points: Exploring the Future of Media and Communications" is a quarterly, interactive speaker series focused squarely on the future issues facing the media, PR and communications industries. The series is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Journalism Center, University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communications and by ACH Communications.