Professors Sarram and Lòpez Interviewed on Fake News by NPR

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On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, Christopher Livesay, JCU Communications professor and NPR correspondent, interviewed Professors Peter Sarram and Antonio Lòpez for a piece titled “Italy Takes Aim At Fake News With New Curriculum For High School Students.”

In the interview, which also featured JCU students Barbara Greco and Elettra Cocca, Professor Lòpez asked the students about the existence of fake news in Italy. The students referred to an image that went viral during the summer of two “immigrants” spending their welfare checks on Prada. The fact that the two were actually Magic Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson didn’t prevent the image from being used in anti-immigration rhetoric.

Professor Peter Sarram commented next on the Italian education system’s recent move to add a class on recognizing fake news to the country’s high school curriculum. Professor Sarram mentioned how the main issue is that most students get their news from their social media feeds. Since, for instance, they get their news from Facebook, maybe posted by a friend, “their [the students] defenses are down, in a way,” said Professor Sarram. Finally, while he applauds the new program, Professor Sarram is wary of the government using fake news as an excuse to curtail free speech. “With the excuse of controlling fake news, it seems as if many governments or many states feel that they have now sort of the legitimacy of intervening in saying – well, this is OK and this is not OK. And that’s always problematic,” he said.