Tackling fake news, soft news and sound bite journalism – University of Auckland


University of Auckland project tackles fake news, soft news and sound bite journalism

“We are trying to ask the big questions behind the news,” says Dr Maria Armoudian, the founding director of the Faculty of Arts-based Project for Public Interest Media (PPIM).

“We want to elevate critical thinking, raise the level of public debate, and counter the trend towards soft news. At the same time we aim to increase the coverage of arts, science and humanities in the media.”

The core of PPIM is the Big Q at www.thebigq.org which publishes up-to-date podcasts on topics ranging from American politics to the science behind sleep, the effects of war on society and the ethics of modern medicine.

The latest podcasts feature three US academics and a University of Auckland historian (Associate Professor Jennifer Frost) asking where the US is heading under Trump’s Presidency and will it soon resemble an authoritarian state? There is also an in-depth look at Dr Gavin Ellis’s book on New Zealand: the Complacent Nation.

“The media’s current economic model often fails to adequately inform people of the issues that we face as a society and how to think about them,” says Dr Armoudian. “It tells us of the activities and conflicts of the day; what’s new and exciting but it doesn’t often tell us how we got there and why.

“We focus on scholarly, peer-reviewed research over a wide range of topics,” she says. “Academics from across disciplines at the University of Auckland and across America and elsewhere contribute their research via videos, podcasts, interviews, symposia and opinion pieces.”

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Dr Armoudian has a PhD from the University of Southern California. She was a Commissioner in the City of Los Angeles and worked in the California State legislature before joining the University of Auckland’s Department of Politics and International Relations in July 2014.

She is also the presenter/founding producer of The Scholars’ Circle, a syndicated radio programme broadcast across the United States.

See The Big Q