Tennessee Thrives

What fuels fake news? Major Tennessee newspapers pledge to oppose 'anti-LGBT' bills

What fuels fake news? Major Tennessee newspapers pledge to oppose 'anti-LGBT' bills

As you would expect, I have been asked more than my share of questions -- in face-to-face encounters and in cyberspace -- about the tsunami of post-Election Day arguments about "fake news."

What do I think of this phenomenon? As it turns out, my answer to this question is directly linked to the work we do here at GetReligion and to my "Journalism Foundations" class that I teach in New York City at The King's College (a class that was also a cornerstone of the old Washington Journalism Center program).

Let me be as brief, because we need to get to a highly relevant case study from The Tennessean in Nashville.

Fake news is real and it's a very dangerous trend in our public discourse. There is fake news on the right, of course, but it also exists on the left (think Rolling Stone). Many Americans are being tempted to consume fake news because they have completely lost trust in the ability of the mainstream press to do accurate, balanced, fair coverage of many of the issues that matter most to people from coast to coast, but especially in the more conservative heartland.

Some of this is political, but we are also talking about "Kellerism" (click here for information on this GetReligion term) and the fact that some elite newsrooms struggle when covering moral, cultural and social issues. Some journalists (thank you Dean Baquet of The New York Times) just don't "get religion."

This brings me to a business story in The Tennessean with this oh-so-typical headline: "Tennessee firms fire warning shot against LGBT laws." Let's see if we can find the key passage that, for many Volunteer State readers, will link directly to their willingness to turn to news sources that mainstream journalists, often with good cause, would call "fake."

The overture, of course, establishes the framing of this 1,300-word report:

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