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The Reuter Society

Alan Cowell

Fake news, or propaganda as one of the dark arts of war, has always benefited from the latest technology and with what’s currently available - smartphones, for example - it has never been easier to plant a rumour, Alan Cowell (photo) told Reuter Society members.

Fake news means two things: the deliberate transmission of false information and lies against journalists themselves. Of the two, accusations against the media are much the more dangerous because they undermine democracy.

Cowell, a Reuters correspondent who went on to report for The New York Times for more than 30 years, said we're adrift in a world in which the most basic coordinates are deceptive. Objectivity is a rare commodity.

The only response to the accusation of false news is to speak truth to power, he said. Complicity with power inevitably leads to self-censorship.

Fake News and how reporters risk falling into Trump's trap ■