Truth qualities of journalism are under intense scrutiny in today’s world. Journalistic scandals have eroded public confidence in mainstream media while pioneering news media compete to satisfy the public’s appetite for news. Still worse is the specter of “fake news” that looms over media and political systems that underpin everything from social stability to global governance.¬†

This volume aims to illuminate the contentious media landscape to help journalism students, scholars, and professionals understand contemporary conditions and arm them to deal with a spectrum of new developments ranging from technology and politics to best practices. 

Fake news is among the greatest of these concerns, and can encompass everything from sarcastic or ironic humor to bot-generated, made-up stories. It can also include the pernicious transmission of selected, biased facts, the use of incomplete or misleadingly selective framing of stories, and photographs that editorially convey certain characteristics. This edited volume contextualizes the current “fake news problem.” Yet it also offers a larger perspective on what seems to be uniquely modern, computer-driven problems. We must remember that we have lived with the problem of people having to identify, characterize, and communicate the truth about the world around them for millennia.

Rather than identify a single culprit for disseminating misinformation, this volume examines how news is perceived and identified, how news is presented to the public, and how the public responds to news. It considers social media’s effect on the craft of journalism, as well as the growing role of algorithms, big data, and automatic content-production regimes. As an edited collection, this volume gathers leading scholars in the fields of journalism and communication studies, philosophy, and the social sciences to address critical questions of how we should understand journalism’s changing landscape as it relates to fundamental questions about the role of truth and information in society.

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James E. Katz is Feld Professor of Emerging Media at COM, where he directs its Division of Emerging Media Studies. He has been awarded a Distinguished Fulbright Chair to Italy, fellowships at Princeton, Harvard, and MIT, and the Ogburn Career Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association. Dr. Katz is an elected fellow of the International Communication Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Kate K. Mays is completing her PhD in Emerging Media Studies at COM and is a Graduate Student Fellow for computational and data-driven research at the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering at Boston University. She has presented her research findings at a variety of international conferences and in several journals. After graduating from Georgetown University, she worked in the publishing industry before coming to Boston University for advanced studies.