Faking It: The Impact of Fake News on Today’s Political Landscape

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Room 1020, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building
Dalhousie University, 6100 University Avenue, Halifax, NS
Facebook Event | Live Stream (Facebook Live)

The MacEachen Institute teams up with Policy Options magazine to co-host a panel of media representatives who will explore the impact of the “fake news” phenomenon on the global political landscape. With a Twitter- happy US president giving new meaning to the term “fake news”, the business of fact-checking, mud-slinging, press-baiting, and election influencing by online trolls has come under considerable scrutiny and given rise to some fundamental questions about the role of the media and elected officials in democratic society. How is the weaponization of the term “fake news” by politicians intent on undermining media credibility, impacting the role of the fourth estate in doing its job - impartially reporting the news, analyzing the issues and keeping politicians “honest”? What impact is the rise of social media usage by elected officials to get directly to the voting public with their version of the truth, and online trolling by foreign entities trying to ride the wave and influence elections, having on the democratic discourse in North America? In the countdown to the US mid-term elections (November 2018) as well as a Canadian federal election (2019), a close look at the implications of the “fake news” phenomenon by our panelists couldn’t be more timely.

Hosted in partnership with Policy Options Magazine.

About the speakers

Elamin Abdelmahmoud

Elamin Abdelmahmoud is a news curation editor with BuzzFeed News and a social media editor for BuzzFeed Canada. He is a panelist and columnist for CBC News, and he writes a monthly column for Chatelaine magazine. Elamin has taught journalism at Ryerson University. He sits on the board of directors for the National Media Awards Foundation.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud Thinks Policy Matters
"Why does policy matter? To me, the most fundamental question of our time is "what does it mean for all of us to be a 'we.'" If the arts give us the language for asking that question, policy gives us the infrastructure to answer it, so that we all share the answer."


Keith Boag

Keith Boag has been a journalist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for 35 years mostly covering politics in Canada and the United States. As Ottawa Bureau Chief and Chief Political Correspondent, Keith was the main political analyst for CBC’s The National and CBC News Specials from 2001 until 2009. In 2010 he opened the CBC’s Los Angeles Bureau. In 2012 he was posted to Washington DC from where he contributes to CBC radio and television and regularly writes political columns and features for the website CBC.ca. Since 2015 he has devoted almost all of his professional energy to covering Donald Trump and his rise to US Commander in Chief.

Keith Boag Thinks Policy Matters
"Mainstream journalism was not prepared for a campaign such as Trump ran in 2016 nor for his subsequent presidency. He weaponized the term “Fake News” to cast doubt on verifiable facts and undermine democratic institutions for the purpose of creating a counter-reality in America that is flattering to himself and dismissive of his failings. To serve those ends, his acolytes on social media contrived a mythical “Deep State” to spread distrust of government and its agencies. The result is a large minority of Americans that enthusiastically embraces Trump’s demagoguery. What role the media had in creating this threat to itself and what it should do about it now is an urgent question that should concern us all."


Jennifer Ditchburn

Jennifer Ditchburn is the editor-in-chief of Policy Options, the digital magazine of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). An award-winning journalist, she spent more than two decades covering national and parliamentary affairs for The Canadian Press and for CBC Television. Jennifer holds a master of journalism from Carleton University, where she is a fellow with the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management. She is the co-editor with Graham Fox of The Harper Factor: Assessing a Prime Minister’s Policy Legacy (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), and a major contributor to Sharp Wits & Busy Pens: 150 Years of Canada’s Parliamentary Press Gallery (Hill Times Publishing, 2016).

Jennifer Ditchburn Thinks Policy Matters
"Public policy impacts the lives of citizens, and even non-citizens, in a multitude of ways each day. It can dictate everything from how often the snow is shovelled on your street and whether there is fluoride in your water, to the number of immigrants allowed into the country each year and what you earn on minimum wage. Evidence-based policy-making that takes into account the diversity of Canadian life can be a force for the public good."


Lee-Anne Goodman

Lee-Anne Goodman is an award-winning journalist who's worked in Washington, D.C., Ottawa and Toronto covering everything from the political ascent of Barack Obama during her years as White House correspondent to the fatal 2014 shooting on Canada's Parliament Hill. She joined The Conversation Canada as its Politics and Business Editor in 2017, and has played an integral role in one of the most successful media startups ever launched in Canada, with more than 14 million page views in its first year of operation. Goodman lives in Toronto with her disturbingly large menagerie of pets.

Lee-Anne Goodman Thinks Policy Matters 
"Policy matters because it governs how we live and even how we die, how we work, how much money we can spend or save, how we can raise and educate our children, how we can protect our health and our environment. In an increasingly chaotic world, it's more important than ever that governments get policy right."

Kelly Toughill (chair)

Kelly Toughill is an award-winning journalist and journalism educator whose writing focuses on two topics: journalism economics and immigration. She is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College and a past reporter and editor at The Toronto Star.

Kelly Toughill Thinks Policy Matters
"Policy is the expression of how we want to live collectively. It embodies not just rules, but values; it is a living map of both where we have been as a culture and society and where we want to be."

About the series

Policy Matters is a weekly panel discussion on major policy issues presented by the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance. Each discussion features thought leaders from civil society and focuses on one of the Institute's four research themes – Civic Engagement, Atlantic Canada and the World, Health Systems and Governance and Smart Infrastructure. Held each Tuesday from September 11 to November 6, the discussions take place in the Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building at Dalhousie, from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm. The events are designed to encourage public engagement with local, national and international policy issues and are open to the public.

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