Tag Archives: Conference

Jenni Sargent: “We need to address fake news”

The editor of First Draft News has issued a plea to journalists and the wider media to become more aware of the risk posed by ‘fake’ news.

Jenni Sargent, speaking at the Society of Editors conference 2016, believes modern-day journalism has made it extremely easy for publications to become slack when it comes to the verification process.

With the internet now dominating journalism at most levels, First Draft News aims to provide verification advice from a non-profit point-of-view.

And Sargent feels the pressure of getting to the story first sometimes leads to inconsistencies.

She said: “At First Draft, we try to provide some guidance to newsrooms to get through this tricky landscape of the internet.

“The reality of most newsrooms is that this urgency to report something that looks convincing is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Sargent’s presentation also focused on the importance of sifting carefully through manipulated and potentially doctored user-generated content.

The Emhub director also feels it’s important to equip journalists with the tools and knowledge needed to differ between potentially fake and genuine sources.

She said: “Everyone is a source – it has potential to be fake, manipulated, and could be shared by social media users who have little knowledge of the topic.

“Understanding who your sources are, where your videos have come from, is so important. You need to question every piece of content.”

By Hayden Atkins

Devolution: just how much public appetite is there?

Devolution has been a source of debate since the controversial Scottish referendum on independence.

Kevin Maguire (Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror), Andrew Pierce (Daily Mail columnist), Mike Sassi (Editor of The Nottingham Post) and Kevin Ward (Editor of the South Wales Argus) took to the stage to debate the implications and benefits of devolution on the media. The session was chaired by Peter Henley, Political Editor of BBC South.

Maguire showed enthusiasm for devolution early on, stating it would be a good idea politically and adding he thinks “by and large it would be good for newspapers if they champion it”.

He also pointed out the lack of a Scottish representative on the panel, seeing as the devolution debate has recently centred on Scotland.

Andrew Pierce said that since the referendum “devolution has become a more interesting story”, with an increase in reporting on stories regarding the increase of local powers.

Kevin Ward said that from a Welsh perspective it was ‘amusing’ to watch the aftermath of the Scottish referendum. “English demands for devolution come from most politicians in England, not most people”, he said.

Discussion then turned to Chancellor George Osborne and the London Assembly.

Maguire felt Osborne had “responded to public demand” in terms of the levels of discussion around devolution.

One main topic of debate was whether the public still has an appetite for devolution, with Sassi and Ward both doubting the level of enthusiasm.

Maguire felt there was unnecessary reporting on the subject. “If there’s no appetite for greater powers in your area, don’t bother writing about it!” he said.

The discussion also touched on the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, which, Peter Henley reminded the panel, cost £12 per vote.

Pierce described the elections as ‘doomed’ as there was no attempt to sell the policy by government, which would have allowed further devolution of police power.

Questions were soon thrown out to the audience, with one delegate stating the Scottish referendum had been held to “pacify the awkward squad”, which prompted Pierce to raise the West Lothian question of whether MPs in devolved areas such as Scotland should be allowed to vote on issues in England.

Devolution, however, doesn’t always result in the best outcome, and Ward gave a Welsh example: “Most of the original assembly members were running a nation when you wouldn’t really want them to run a bath”.



By Poppy Jeffery