Fresno State. (Larry Valenzuela)

Fresno State Establishes Institute for Media and Public Trust

A new institute at Fresno State will examine media literacy and “fake news” and will develop new strategies to restore trust in media, according to Fresno State News.

The Institute for Media and Public Trust was established by President Dr. Joseph Castro, who said, “the institute will study the current state of news-gathering and reporting and develop solutions to the challenge of credibility in the news media, its impact on voters and their participation in our democratic institutions. It will also examine how social media networks impact these issues.”

The institute will be housed in the Department of Media, Communication and Journalism. Jim Boren, former editor of The Fresno Bee and a journalism instructor, will be the first executive director of the institute.

“Media distrust has been going on for many decades,” Boren said, “but the intensity increased after the 2016 election. The public is clamoring for solutions, and media outlets across the board are looking for strategies to rebuild public trust.”

Dr. Castro said one of the institute’s first programs will address freedom of speech. He said seminars will discuss the First Amendment on college campuses in the age of social media and how it relates to academic freedom, tenure and employment law. According to Castro, the sessions will “grapple with the notion of civility in public discussions.”

A key goal of the institute is to increase media literacy among news consumers through community outreach and events. In addition, the institute will focus on identifying best practices in journalism that gain public trust. The institute will also work with news organizations to increase the transparency of the news-gathering process.

Initial funding is coming from the university and additional fundraising is underway. The aim is for the institute to ultimately be self-sustaining through grants and donations, according to Fresno State News.

For more information about the institute, call the MCJ Department at 559-278-2087.