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Chatham House Debate: Does 'Fake News' Matter?

13 June 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Chatham House, London



Dr Clare Birchall, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Culture, King's College London

Simon Milner, Director, Public Policy, Facebook


James Carson, Head of SEO and Social Media, The Telegraph

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research, Reuters Institute for Journalism Studies


Dr James Rodgers, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, City University; Foreign Correspondent, BBC (1995-2010)



Though bending the truth for political gain is as old as politics itself, the concept of ‘fake news’ as a derogatory term used by politicians, interest groups and alternate media sources came to the fore during the 2016 US election campaign. But what does ‘fake news’ mean? Is it a relatively new phenomenon or merely a new label for something that has always existed in various guises? More importantly, is ‘fake news’ damaging the reliability of mainstream and traditional media sources and is it powerful enough to irreparably damage the reputation of public figures or even change the outcome of an election?

Chatham House will present four distinguished panellists who will debate the proposition ‘does fake news matter?’ Is it an overblown concept of little import? Or does the concept have important consequences for the functioning of news outlets and how the general public consumes information?

The event will begin with a vote by the audience on the motion under debate and will close with a final vote to determine how many in attendance have altered their opinions.