1st Edition

The Roots of Fake News Objecting to Objective Journalism

By Brian Winston, Matthew Winston Copyright 2021
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The Roots of Fake News argues that ‘fake news’ is not a problem caused by the power of the internet, or by the failure of good journalism to assert itself. Rather, it is within the news’s ideological foundations – professionalism, neutrality, and most especially objectivity – that the true roots of the current ‘crisis’ are to be found.

    Placing the concept of media objectivity in a fuller historical context, this book examines how current perceptions of a crisis in journalism actually fit within a long history of the ways news media have avoided, obscured, or simply ignored the difficulties involved in promising objectivity, let alone ‘truth’. The book examines journalism’s relationships with other spheres of human endeavour (science, law, philosophy) concerned with the pursuit of objective truth, to argue that the rising tide of ‘fake news’ is not an attack on the traditional ideologies which have supported journalism. Rather, it is an inevitable result of their inherent flaws and vulnerabilities.

    This is a valuable resource for students and scholars of journalism and history alike who are interested in understanding the historical roots, and philosophical context of a fiercely contemporary issue.


    Foreword: Roots, Fakery & Objectivity: ‘Let Us Count Our Spoons’ 


      1.  ‘Strange Newes’: Printed News 1485 ----
                  The Frightening And Truly Extraordinary Story
      2. ‘Newes’: The Coming Of The Newspaper 1600----
                   ‘For The Better Information Of The People’
      3.  ‘Booming A Newspaper’: Newspapers And News-Media 1800----]
                      ‘Many A Good Newspaper Story Has Been Ruined By Over-Verification 
      4.    ‘Oh The Humanity!’: Broadcast News 1900----
                    ‘The Public Interest, Convenience, Or Necessit
      5. .  Online: Digital Newspapers 1980----
                ‘I Come From Cyberspace, The New Home Of Mind
      6.    ‘Info Wars’: News Platforms 2000----
               ‘But Journalism Is Like The Most Honoured Professions In Other Ways’ 
      7. Objecting To Objectivity

      8.   Fact: ‘Hard’ Science                                         
                ‘What Is Behind A Scientific Text?... Inscriptions'
      9.   Fact: ‘Thick’ Descriptions           
              ‘Cultural Analysis Is Intrinsically Incomplete’’
      10.   Judgement: The Legal Mindset
              ‘To Collect All The Proofs On Both Sides; To Compare Them
      11.   Judgement: The Fine Print
        ‘No Provider…. Shall Be Treated As The Publisher’
      12.   Truth: The Philosophical Approach
               ‘Journalism By Nature Is Reactive And Practical
      13.   Truth: Moral Philosophy
               ‘Links Between Cause And Effect Are Still Lacking’
      14. The Fourth Estate 

      15.    Shouting Fire On A Crowded Website - ‘Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts. I’ve Got A Closed Mind’              
      16.     Speaking Truth To Power   ‘….More Important Far Than They All’



    Brian Winston is the Lincoln Professor at the University of Lincoln (UK). He is the author of A Right to Offend, The Rushdie Fatwa and After and also writes on documentary film and media technology. He was the founding director of the Glasgow University Media Group.

    Matthew Winston is the author of Gonzo Text: Disentangling Meaning in Hunter S. Thompson’s Journalism . He teaches in the School of Media, Communication and Sociology at the University of Leicester.

    'This long-overdue study by the Winston father and son duo finally elevates the fake news debate to a completely new, high level, taking in its historical, philosophical, legalistic, scientific and ethical dimensions – and much more. Writing with panache and wit, the authors create a text for all teachers, students and members of the public seeking a reliable – and still challenging – guide through the fake news jungle.' - Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism, University of Lincoln  

    'This book comes at an optimal time, providing the kind of cultural and contextual history missing from a lot of the debates around fake news. Offering countervailing perspectives, The Roots of Fake News allows the audience to see how what is taken for granted about journalistic practice and epistemology invites bad actors to exploit often ignored vulnerabilities.' - Brian Creech, Associate Professor of Journalism at the School of Media and Communication at Temple University

    "This is without question the most enlightening press history I have ever read. The research is deeper and more precise in every historical period than the standard literature has demonstrated. The narrative includes period language and authentic primary sources with stunning liveliness. The book is a diamond from our field for the humanities, demonstrating communication scholarship of excellence." - Dr Clifford Christians, Research Professor Emeritus of Communications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.