CBA Record September 2018


By Bonnie McGrath Editorial Board Member

how to vote. Reliable information is what everyone should be seeking,” she said. The challenge is figuring out what’s reli- able, knowing what information you are consuming and from whom. She pointed out, for example, that a consistent news diet of either MSNBC and Fox News on cable (or even a balanced diet of same) may not be healthy. Both may have their facts “right” but the “news” is then skewed in favor of an ideology that can throw news consumers off track. Schultz, who spent years as a reporter at various news outlets and in other media jobs, maintained—to the surprise of her audience—that social media by its nature contains a balance of news that is more than likely not only balanced, but healthy. Pointing out the fact that young people get a lot of their news from YouTube, Schultz showed the audience an interest- ing action-packed video that looked totally real—until she showed us another video that showed how the first one was manipu- lated to the hilt. A consumer of news needs tools to verify and determine what they’re hearing, seeing and watching, and Schultz offered some helpful tips of what to look for when con- suming news: independent sources, mul- tiple sources, authorized sources, named

“There’s always been fake news,” said Susy Schultz at a recent Signature Series pro- gram at the CBA. She backed that up by citing familiar supermarket tabloids that have been around for generations. Schultz is President of Public Narrative, a Chicago not-for-profit with the mis- sion to shore up the country’s democratic underpinnings by teaching both journalists and non-profits how to tell better stories. Everyone knew what she meant. (The kind of paper that would have a story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington, DC, right?) Yet it was an eye-opening concept: the idea that fake news has always been out there. And we all accepted it for what it was. And before the tabloids, Schultz said, there were pamphlets full of fake news during Colonial times. Thomas Jefferson himself “loathed the charlatans who put them out,” said Schultz, “but he also knew that our liberty depended on it.” Fake news: a necessary evil? News is the basis of our democracy, Schultz maintained. “The port of entry for citizens to get reliable information, helping citizens decide what to do and what to think and

CBA Market Insider CBA Market Insider e-Newsletter highlights the latest Chicago Bar Association marketing and sponsorship offerings, along with the recent successes of the businesses and law firms that support our legal community. sources, and verification of evidence from sources. And regarding an opinion piece, she advised that it makes a difference whether the writer is a recognized expert, a com- mentator, or a journalist. Readers should ask themselves each time if the person offering the opinion has “earned the right to generalize.” Schultz encouraged the audience to maintain a threshold level of skepticism when consuming news, no matter what one sees or hears. She recalled a recent story that started out as “breaking news” and kept being called “breaking news”—for a full eight hours. Get your copy at

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