Citizen journalist report on local “fake” news seminar: “Walked out. What a joke!”

Reinette Senum filed this report on her Facebook page:

“Regarding the Snopes.com and NC Scooper “Conversation” last night at Sierra College in Grass Valley. I attempted to sit through it. Walked out. What a joke.

“It began with Randal ‘Fink’ Finkelstein, editor of NC Scooper, who was supposed to be present on stage for the ‘conversation’ in person, but instead was on a computer screen in the form of a fish, facing the audience, attempting to speak in a modified voice so as not to give himself away to the audience.

“Well, that failed…. Fink had to stop hiding behind the voice modifying software on his computer and use his real voice. I’m sure some people in the audience recognized it.

“This is where it gets really good: The opening statements by the ‘respected’ Brooke Binkowski, Managing Editor of Snopes.com (the go-to Fact-verifying website), completely verified she doesn’t even know her own Snopes-verified-facts: I kid you not, Binkowski began gushing over NC Scooper IMMEDIATELY, going on and on about how wonderful they are and how THEY are NOT fake news. Oh no no! THEY are satirical. She then continued on about how her editor even gets all excited when he sees a new NC Scooper piece…. And did I already mention she said NC Scooper is SOOOOO satirical and so NOT fake?

“This is an amazing statement coming from the Managing EDITOR of Snopes considering Snopes officially claimed NC Scooper as one of the top 20 FAKE websites in 2016.

“You can read it here:

‘“Snopes’ Field Guide to Fake News Sites and Hoax Purveyors
Snopes.com‘s updated guide to the internet’s clickbaiting, news-faking, social media exploiting dark side.

“NC Scooper (or Nevada County Scooper) was one of the few ostensibly humor-based fake news sites whose items floated around social media. Most articles published by NC Scooper were clearly satirical in nature and not intended to deceive readers by spreading false information; nevertheless, a few efforts genuinely confused social media users. Among NC Scooper‘s crossover bits were pieces claiming official ‘gun confiscation units’ were taking people’s weapons, that Merle Haggard left his estate to an LBGT group, that Meg White of the White Stripes was joining Rush, and that Sen. Bernie Sanders called for ‘chemtrail reform.’

“There were no hard questions asked by the mediator last night. The questions seemed designed to do nothing more than legitimize NC Scooper with Snopes ‘blessing’ of NOT being fake, but ‘satirical.’ Fink actually compared himself and his cowardly writers that hide behind their pseudonyms as being like Mark Twain or the women authors of the turn of the century that had to hide their real names in order to avoid persecution. Fink even said, ‘we could not write what we write using our real names.’ Duh! Exactly… that’s the point. You would never write what you write if you had to attach your name to your words. Don’t you people get it?”

Fink did not appear for this “conversation,” but Reinette provided an audio clip:

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

10 thoughts on “Citizen journalist report on local “fake” news seminar: “Walked out. What a joke!””

  1. Wow.
    We were going to go as a family, but our son had a volleyball practice and some statistics and Spanish homework that I helped him with.
    Glad we passed.
    In San Francisco, you get to go to thoughtful presentations from groups like the Commonwealth Club.
    Here The Center for the Arts has some interesting presentations, like Melissa Arnot, the woman who climbed Mt. Everest or Alice Waters, who revolutionized farm-to-table dining.
    This event sounds like it was a big joke, however. Second rate. Or third rate.

  2. Seriously Jeff on this I think you just don’t get it. NC Scooper is not a news site, a fake news site, or a propaganda site, even if it makes money for its writers through advertising. It is a satire site, and the rise of the internet as a means of communications has given a rise to satire sites just as it has nonprofit and citizen journalism. You keep insisting on comparing the two and perpetuating a false equivalency. I really hope that one day a more in depth and serious brand of journalism comes back and I think it will through an electronic medium, but the enemy of journalism is not satire.

    1. Steve,
      You don’t get it. A lot of people still don’t get that this is satire.
      I still get questions from people who read this Scooper article titled “Scoopito: Jeff Pelline Announced As New Copy Editor for The Union.” And I have to tell them “No, it’s supposed to be satire.”
      Senum apologized for her unfortunate remark about the Dallas police, but the Scooper exacerbated it with “satire” and “fake” headline (City Councilwoman: The Dallas Police Got What They Deserved) that some people believed. And she received a bunch of death threats. Funny, eh?
      Other targets of Scooper have told similar stories.
      And worse, the authors can’t be held accountable because they hide behind “fake names.”
      This is not satire either. It is no different than the “internet” trolls on local blogs like Todd’s “Sierra Dragon Breathe (sic)”
      What a joke to invite people to a “conversation” and have a computer with a “fake” voice sitting on the stage.
      Scooper is a great example of a myopic mindset around here that earns it the reputation as an “adult Disneyland” but is more accurately characterized as “Podunk.”

  3. Satire, like all comedy, works by violating boundaries (most often of good taste). If those violations are too excessive, people object to dignifying them with the label “satire” or “comedy’ and start calling them merely “not funny” or “bad taste” or “podunk” or whatever pejorative rings their bell. I’ve laughed at Scooper and I’ve been appalled by Scooper, but then I can say the same thing about the Onion and about Kathy Griffin. Bad taste lurks beneath the surface of all comedy and all satire, except when it breaks through the surface and offends almost everyone.

  4. Here’s George Rebane’s take:
    “The local League of Women Voters presented a get together on ‘Fake News’ at Sierra College last night. It featured Brooke Binkowski, Managing Editor of snopes.com and Randall ‘Fink’ Finkelstein, NC Scooper editor, both supposed experts on the topic. It was a real jaw dropper. Jo Ann and I had never attended a more lame, information free, and sophomoric presentation as we witnessed last night. The LWV used to be a real heads up organization and source of non-partisan voter information before its joining the progressives. No more. The clear political implication was to obliquely point to the Republican Party and, of course, Trump (never leave him out) as the fount of fake news, which, by the way, no one was able to define – sort of like pornography.

    “About half an hour into the thing, people of the Right and Left started walking out, as people realized that no one on stage knew what they were talking about. We greeted Reinette Senum, who sat behind us, and saw her with some friends quietly get up and leave during an unbelievable sequence with Ms Binkowski, a certified feather-head. (Ms Senum’s ascerbic post on the evening is on her Facebook page.) And we still don’t have any idea why Mr Finkelstein was invited to participate. Full disclosure – it pains me to admit that we were not the first to leave. ”

    http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2017/09/scattershots-6sep17.html

  5. “The clear political implication was to obliquely point to the Republican Party and, of course, Trump (never leave him out) as the fount of fake news”

    The truth hurts doesn’t it, especially for those who seem not to see the forest for the trees.

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