From the Director

Issue: 

Fundamental to the Foundation of Democracy

David Ryfe, Ph.D.  DEO, School of Journalism & Mass Communication
David Ryfe, Ph.D., DEO,
School of Journalism & Mass Communication

The theme for this issue, “two truths and a lie,” highlights a paradox. 

On one hand, we have the careers of Bill Casey and Danny Wilcox Frasier, which together demonstrate that the profession has never been more, well, professional.

On the other, we have a public that seems more susceptible to misinformation than ever before.

What gives?

Fake news is certainly not new. Nor is the fact that the cognitive shortcuts people use to process information can easily lead them to believe things that are not true.

What is new, I think, is the fact that the Internet offers far fewer filters for bad information, and more opportunities for those who would produce and distribute it. It also has contributed to a rapid depletion of the journalistic labor force. Put simply, there are fewer journalists around today who might act as gatekeepers for fake news. 

The result is that our cognitive biases are more obvious. 

What can be done? Well, if I had the answer to that question I’d patent it and buy my own island! 

More seriously, I can say that the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is dedicated to doing its part, from teaching new media literacy to undergraduates to partnering with news organizations on as many initiatives and experiments as we can. 

If you have ideas for what more we might do, I’d love to hear them. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this issue of the Iowa Journalist.

With best wishes,

David Ryfe, Ph.D.
DEO, School of Journalism & Mass Communication