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More ‘misinformation’ than ‘fake news

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WESTBOUND Mark Little is in Westport this weekend for the Rolling Sun Book Festival.

Áine Ryan

Just like all print media, the days are most likely numbered for the local newspaper. That is according to Mark Little, founder of Storyful and former RTÉ Washington Correspondent. Mr Little will be in Westport this weekend to participate in a panel discussion on the subject of ‘fake news’.   
While he said local media was not his area of expertise, Mr Little told The Mayo News that: “Obviously the first victim of digitisation was the local newspaper as people decided they could get news about their families and communities on such social media platforms as Facebook. So the first wave of change –  the rise of community journalism and the blogger – undermined the [role of] newspapers while the next wave – already happening in the US with Patreon – will develop new platforms allowing individuals who have a knowledge of certain subjects to be the specialist correspondents.”
He cites the example of the sports bloggers, Second Captains who use the Patreon platform.
Little explains that people who are interested in certain subjects will effectively become ‘patrons’ of that correspondent, paying (or making donations) to the relevant platform.
“These are very exciting new platforms but we are not there yet. The fundamental change is about the revenue stream. There will be a move away from advertising for revenue, it is ‘going back to the future’ to the original methods. So the future will not necessarily involve newspapers.”
When The Mayo News asked Mr Little about the concept of ‘fake news’,  he said: “We don’t use the term ‘fake news’ because ‘misinformation’ is the real issue. And this is not just about Donald Trump and the US or just about politics. This can be about health, for example, new revelations about the MMR virus. People have to become aware that when something you see on social media is ‘too good to be true’ it is because you need to apply a level of scepticism.”
Neva Labs, the  new company he co-founded with Áine Kerr aims to restore ‘truth and trust’  into the distribution of information.
Ms Kerr will also be on next Friday night’s Rolling Sun Book Festival panel – alongside filmmaker, Jim Sheridan. of ‘The Field’ fame, as well as colourful columnist and journalist, Lise Hand and Irish-American academic, Larry Donnelly.
With the season of Samhain upon us, this year’s Rolling Sun Book Festival also embraces the dark art of ‘Armchair Thrillers’ for its On the Couch chat on Saturday afternoon when crime writers, Paul Perry joins RTÉ’s Sinéad Crowley and Jane Casey. The boutique festival includes an exhibition by local photographer, Conor McKeown, Bucket List books with RTÉ Gold’s, Rick O’Shea, Niall MacMonagle and Castlebar native, Sally Rooney.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Austin Vaughan, of the festival committee, said: “We are particularly delighted with this year’s line-up for the festival. To have Academy award-winning director, Jim Sheridan on stage with Mark Little, founder of Storyful and a former RTÉ broadcaster, is bound to make  for an interesting debate about ‘fake news’. Add the columnist, Lise Hand into the mix and there are sure to be some laughs as well as probing observations.
“This is the eighth year now of the Rolling Sun and, with a relatively small budget, we have managed to attract some very big names over the years. We find November is a perfect time to run the festival as our local stalwarts really enjoy the  weekend, which has an organically developed format. The fact that the Town Hall Theatre will host the return of RTÉ One’s Sunday Miscellany this year shows how Westport is always progressing its facilities,” he continued.  

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www.rollingsunbookfestival.com for the full programme. Phone the Clew Bay Hotel (098 28088) to book events not being held in the Town Hall Theatre,
www.westporttheatre.com

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