Guest lecture to focus on 'fake news' phenomena

Russell Frank, associate professor of communications at Penn State, will be the featured speaker for the March Faculty Invitational Lecture Series at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Frank will present, "News, Abused: How and Why Jokers and Dirty Tricksters Create Fake News Stories and Photographs from Real Ones," at 12:15 p.m. on March 25, in the auditorium (room 135) at the campus in Center Valley. This lecture is free and open to the public.

"From Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Saturday Night Live on TV, to digitally altered photographs and bogus news stories on the Internet, we are awash in words and images that look and sound like real news, but aren't," said Frank. "This presentation will attempt to make some sense out of this phenomenon."

During the lecture, Frank will include several examples of "fake news," summarize the efforts of the indefatigable debunkers at snopes.com and urbanlegends.com to track the various distortions to their sources, and consider what he calls a curious paradox: that the credibility of false stories and photos rests on the credibility of the mainstream news media, even as the fakes contribute to the undermining of the credibility of the mainstream news media.

Professor Frank worked for newspapers as a reporter and editor for 12 years before joining the College of Communications faculty at Penn State in 1998. His journalism and mass communications research reflects his graduate training in folklore. He has written about the newsroom as a folk culture and news stories as folk narratives and is currently working on a book to be called, "Newslore." As the title suggests, the book is about topical folklore -- jokes, legends and digitally altered photographs -- inspired by the content and style of news reports. He received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information, contact University Relations at 610-285-5067 or aag18@psu.edu.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010