by Pritam K. Rohila, Ph.D.

Fake news, alternative facts, and post-truths have always been used to defend falsehoods, mislead others and sway public opinion. But such deceptions found special use during the last presidential elections in the United States, and popularity of the internet and social media like Facebook and Twitter, led to their unusual amplification.

Writer and columnist Norman Solomon

In fact, production of falsehoods and incomplete or distorted facts and their dissemination in the United States, became a profitable business even in other countries. For example, it has been reported that hundreds of teenagers were able to secure employment in such enterprises, in as distant countries as (“New”) Macedonia.

Many have expressed the fear, that fake news publicized on Facebook had affected the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and had become a serious threat to democracy. In his testimony before a joint Senate Committee, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took personal responsibility for the disinformation spread through Facebook.

Salem area people will have an opportunity to learn more about the politics of fake news, at the 28th Annual Peace Lecture, entitled “Independent Journalism and Fake News: The Role of News Media in Shaping Political Consciousness,” by Norman Solomon, at 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, October 24, 2018. It will be held in Willamette University’s Hudson Hall of the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center. As usual the lecture is free and open to public.

Norman Solomon is an American journalist, media critic, antiwar activist, and former U.S. congressional candidate. He is a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Also Mr. Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), which he founded in 1997.  IPA provides alternative sources for journalists. Solomon’s weekly column, “Media Beat”, was in national syndication from 1992 to 2009.

Every year, Salem’s Peace Lecture Committee recognizes a local leading peacemaker. This year the Committee has chosen Salem for Refugees for this honor. This group provides services and comfort to refugees who have settled in the Salem area.

Salem Peace Lecture is sponsored by many Salem area faith groups and community organizations, and is convened by Peace Plaza, Inc.; Oregon PeaceWorks; Salem Chapter of the United Nations Association; Willamette University’s Office of the Chaplains; and the Association for Communal Harmony.

More information is available from Karen Wood of the Willamette University Office of the Chaplains at chaplain@willamette.edu or 503.370.6213.