All posts by Angela Fortuna

More Than Just a Safe Place

by Sarah Willson
The Ruth Boyea Women’s Center at Central Connecticut State University has provided students with guidance and resources for over 15 years and is continuing to add new programs.
“On campus, we provide cultural resources,” said freshman Michelle Chavdhary, a staff member at the Women’s Center.
“There’s a Latino Women in Leadership program that we provide. We also offer services such as Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” said Chavdhary. “I’m currently working on the Girls in STEM expo, it’s our ninth year that we’re doing [the program] here at CCSU.”
“What we’re trying to do is promote and foster [women] in the STEM field because there are not a lot of them going to the STEM field,” said Chavdhary. “We bring in about a hundred girls from Connecticut.”
The event is run by students and staff volunteers at CCSU and acts as a way to encourage women to join the STEM field.
Chavdhary believes the STEM turnout for females is so low due to its largely male image.
Women only make up 25.8 percent of the STEM fields, according to Catalyst, a non-profit organization that aims to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion.
The Women’s Center, known for its variety of activities, also puts together events that stray far from academics.
“Planned Parenthood was a program we did in February as a way to provide females and males here on campus with information about the services offered,” said Chavdhary. “A lot of people don’t really know exactly what Planned Parenthood is, or the services they provide.”
The program was described as a way to help students practice safe sex and feel in control of their own bodies.
“We also do Women’s Night In for females here on campus,” said Chavdhary. “We have belly dancing, pole dancing and yoga. It’s basically just to empower women.”
The Women’s Center does more than just host activities. Chavdhary stated that staff members are always more than willing to help students overcome any academic or personal obstacle they may face throughout their time at CCSU.
“People who are uncomfortable [going to the Women’s Center] should not be uncomfortable because we understand your situation,” said Chavdhary. “We know what you’re going through. We’re here to care for you and we’re here to help you. You are going to be our first priority.”
“It’s a place for anybody and everybody. They can come here and talk to us and we can get you the help that you need,” said Chavdhary.
“I think a lot of people tend to forget that the Women’s Center is for both males and females,” said Chavdhary. “Everybody here is welcome.”
The Women’s Center, named after its founder, Ruth Boyea, “exists to provide resources, to advocate, to inform and to support personal development,” to students and faculty at CCSU, according to its website.
Located in room 215 of the Student Center, the Women’s Center provides a variety of programs for both men and women, on and off campus.
Students can find services that provide information on a variety of issues such as women’s rights, gender equality and leadership roles Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Women’s Center aims to bring students together regardless of their economic status, sexual orientation or cultural and ethnic background.

Make America Stupid Again

by Kristina Vakhman

The Trump administration proposed its “America First” budget plan to Congress last week, unveiling alarming cuts to significant educational and scientific institutions.

These slashes were propositioned to offset a $54 billion increase in military spending and other security measures.

If Congress approves the current proposed budget, the Department of Education would suffer a whopping $9 billion decrease in the next fiscal year. 20 of the department’s programs would be defunded or entirely eliminated.

The Environmental Protection Agency would see a $2.6 billion cut and a loss of 3,200 jobs, consequently affecting educational programs centered around environmental protection, such as Advanced Placement Environmental Science in high schools.

Additional government and independent programs and agencies at risk include: the Federal Pell Grant Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Art Works, the National Endowment for the Arts, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grants, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program, work study programs, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, NASA’s Office of Education and many more.

For public colleges like Central Connecticut State University, these reductions and eliminations mean less support for low-income students in need of financial aid, as well as a potential increase in tuition.

While these cuts have been presented to “emphasize national security and public safety,” as written in President Donald Trump’s opening message in the plan, there may be a darker reason for why educational, scientific and related programs are major targets in the administration’s radar: Trump and his administration are trying to dumb down the American people.

According to a report done by the Pew Research Center after the 2016 presidential election, voters “without a college degree backed Trump 52 percent to 44 percent” against Clinton.

“Dramatic movement” amongst those with no college degree caused the widest gap between college and non-college voters since “any election dating to 1980,” the report adds.

It is clear that the president benefitted greatly from this demographic. He could potentially benefit from it again, should he run for re-election in 2020.

So, why would Trump want any of its residents to move from it? Why would he want uneducated voters to educate themselves and to potentially form views that differ from his? He would lose a major voting base if there is movement in educational demographics; his best bet to keep that from happening is to suppress policies and programs that provide for these kinds of advancements.

This strategy is similar to what Trump is doing with facts and reputable sources. By undermining the credibility of news organizations, journalists, scientists and professors that present the truth in his actions, our commander-in-chief is keeping his supporters in the dark. Even if this is detrimental to the functioning of society, as people are blindly voting for things that can cause them harm (like the American Health Care Act, or “Trumpcare,” which will increase the cost of health insurance for poor and working-class white Americans — a group that voted for Trump), the president will do it anyway to rally support behind him.

Those who are not properly educated on certain topics will believe whatever comes out of the president’s mouth.

Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, have stated that the president should be the American people’s main source of facts, not the press. By cutting education and science, Trump will be able to assert this role of truth-bearer; with less funding, these programs will have less of a chance to present facts contradicting his words.

His supporters, especially those with little education, will continue to stand behind him. That is why Trump has said he “loves the poorly educated.”

Less education means more voters wearing “pink glasses.” A badly educated population is easy to manipulate. Ask any dictator.

International Women’s Day Strike Brought Awareness to Gender Inequality

by Angela Fortuna

International Women’s Day was about spreading the message that women deserve all the same rights as men, according to Central Connecticut State University freshman Catherine Moran.

A crowd of about a hundred students and faculty rallied to support women’s rights in the Student Center Circle on March 8 as part of International Women’s Day.

“[The strike] brought awareness to an issue which is otherwise greatly overlooked by our population,” said Moran.

Moran admitted the strike made her feel empowered as a woman in today’s society.

“With rape and other violent [crimes] toward women more advertised on the media, [the issue] is still not on the decline,” said Moran. “It needs to be known that those issues, among others, are not acceptable and we will no longer stand for it.”

 

Although women’s rights have improved over the years, many women still have to deal with the issue of inequality, especially in the workplace.

“Despite the great leaps we have made for women, we are still making 75 cents for every dollar that a man makes,” said Moran.

Many who attended wore red in solidarity and abstained from paid and unpaid labor for the day, in conjunction with the early 1900s labor movement.

Participants were also asked to refrain from shopping for the day, or to only shop at small stores owned by women or people of color.

The event featured a few CCSU student speakers including freshmen Shelby Williams and Sawera Hussan, seniors Tania Correa and Monica Nieves and event chairperson, Amy Frances Tenenbaum.

Along with issues regarding women’s equality, many people are actively participating in these strikes in opposition of President Donald Trump and his policies, especially his lack of support for Planned Parenthood.

Trump is also known for having extremely lewd conversations about women, dating back to before he announced his candidacy for president.

“We strike to end gender violence, protect reproductive freedom, secure equal pay for all, preserve the environment and natural resources and call upon our governments around the world to enforce effective secularization,” said Tenenbaum in an earlier interview.

Tenenbaum felt confident with the outcome of the strike, posting later on in the day, “thank you so much to everyone who made it out today! YOU ALL are #WhyIStrike,” on the CCSU International Women’s Day Strike’s event page on Facebook.

The event, organized by Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at CCSU and the Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center, aimed to get people to “come together for love and liberation,” as stated on the CCSU Women’s Strike poster.

People across the world collectively protested to support a particular wide-spread issue in society today: women’s equality.

The outcome of the strike proved to be successful and will be remembered as the first International Women’s Day strike held at CCSU.

International Women’s Day Strike Planned at CCSU

by Angela Fortuna

Women across the world took action today to #beboldforchange, as stated in the the International Women’s Day slogan. They are protesting President Donald Trump’s policies and fighting for equality.

The goal of the International Women’s Day campaign is to “call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world.”

Women are fighting for “a more inclusive, gender equal world,” according to the International Women’s Day campaign.

“International Women’s Day started in Germany as a response to women there fighting for their right to vote,” said Amy Frances Tenenbaum, CCSU junior and student chairperson of the strike. “We strike to end gender violence, protect reproductive freedom, secure equal pay for all, preserve the environment and natural resources and call upon our governments around the world to enforce ‘effective secularization.'”

Women’s Day organizers have declared the day to be “The Day Without a Woman.”

“We strike this year to combat decades of socioeconomic inequality by calling for all marginalized communities to come together, get loud and make their voices heard,” said Tenenbaum.
Organizers of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. are calling on women to participate in a one-day strike, abstaining from paid and unpaid labor. Strikes will be held all across the world.

The protest turnout across the world on International Women’s Day is expected to be similar to the Woman’s March on Jan. 21 with over a million people participating. 

According to NBC New York, “[Women’s Day organizers] are also encouraging women to wear red in solidarity and to spend money only at small women and minority-owned businesses that day.”

The International Women’s Day strike is aimed to support Native American women, women of color, working women, immigrant women, lesbian and transgender women, Muslim women and disabled women.

There will be a women’s strike held at the Student Center Circle today at noon.

The event, hosted by Tenenbaum, aims to get people to “come together for love and liberation,” as stated on the CCSU Women’s Strike poster.

There will be a few CCSU students speaking at the event, including freshmen Shelby Williams and Sawera Hussan, as well as seniors Tania Correa, Senior Monica Nieves and Tenenbaum.

The CCSU community and the public are welcome to come and support women’s rights.

The event is being sponsored by Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center at CCSU.

On the poster advertising the strike, Tenenbaum addresses the issue head-on: “We, the women of the world, are fed up with violence addressed at us, be it physical, economic, verbal or moral. We will no longer tolerate it passively. We demand that our governments stop using misogynistic insults and start taking real measures to solve the numerous problems related to our safety.”

Tenenbaum later goes on to say “we demand our governments enforce effective secularization and recognize that before our biological conditions, we are first of all human beings,” on behalf of all women.

This strike will be the first protest related to women’s rights held at CCSU.

If the event gets rained out, the strike will be held in the Constitution Room in Memorial Hall, with limited seating.

CCSU Reacts to Loss of Student

by Angela Fortuna

The loss of a Central Connecticut State University freshman who fell from the roof of a Hartford bar has left students and faculty mourning across campus.

Taylor Lavoie, 18, of East Granby, was a freshman biology major at CCSU when she suddenly died after an incident at the Angry Bull Saloon last Friday. 

According to the Hartford Police Department, Lavoie is said to have fallen more than four stories off the rooftop of Angry Bull.

Lavoie’s advisor, Dr. Douglas Carter, the Biology Department Chair, spoke about her in a very positive light. Dr. Carter taught Lavoie in a general biology course last fall.

When describing Lavoie, Dr. Carter described her as a “very strong student” with a “very promising future.”

Although Dr. Carter did not know Lavoie for very long, he knew she would make a very significant impact on the Biology Department at CCSU. Dr. Carter described Lavoie as being “very involved in the classroom” with an interest in going to veterinary school in the future.

“I was sure [Lavoie] would have been an award-winning student in biology,” said Dr. Carter.

After learning of Lavoie’s death, Dr. Carter said that many of her friends and fellow students were in shock.

“After hearing about the loss of a fellow CCSU student, my first reaction was to think of her and her parents,” said SGA Senator Marissa Cusano. “My thoughts and prayers are with them after this tragic event.”

“I feel really upset for the family and friends of this student,” said CCSU freshman Alyssa Mercaldi. “It’s made me realize how important it is to appreciate all of my friends at CCSU because, anyone can be gone in the blink of an eye.”

“It is a very unfortunate event, but it reminds you to never take anything for granted, because life can change so quickly,” said CCSU freshman Katie Barnicle.

Angry Bull responded to the incident on March 3 through Facebook.

“[We are] devastated by the loss of life of this young college student,” Angry Bull said in the statement.

Angry Bull wrote that they have not been found in violation and they have not had any punitive action taken against them. The bar’s liquor permit has been suspended until March 24.

Angry Bull will meet with the Hartford Police Department and the Department of Consumer Protection during their time in suspension to review procedures.

On the day of the incident, CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro sent out an email to students and faculty expressing her condolences during this rough time.

“Beyond the grief that we feel, tragedies such as this remind us how important it is for us, as a community, to cherish and support each other,” said Dr. Toro.

Anyone who would like to speak with a counselor can visit Student Wellness Services at their office in Marcus White or contact the office at 860-832-1945. John Campbell, of the Campus Ministry, is also available to speak to students.

CCSU Italian Professor Works on Eleventh Book

by Angela Fortuna

Many people say that the sound of poetry is more important than the words, but that is not the aim of the poet, according to Central Connecticut State University professor Maria Passaro.

Many know Passaro as an Italian professor at CCSU, but she is also an author.

Passaro’s books tend to have the same theme. She takes a famous poem that is written in the original Italian language and translates it into English, sentence by sentence. The only exception of this Italian to English translation is with her first book, based on an Italian tragedy, published in 1997, where she provided the Italian translation.

“My books tend to be in the original and translation,” said Passaro. “I don’t want to sacrifice the meaning of the poem. I am just trying to [translate] the poem closer to what the poet is saying.”

During Passaro’s 28 years at CCSU, she has written many books and articles. Currently, she is the director of the Italian Resource Center on campus.

With a doctorate in comparative literature and a master’s degree in Italian, Passaro is very knowledgeable in literature and Italian translation. After many years of experience, Passaro’s writing style comes naturally to her.

Passaro previously taught Italian grammar and literature at Fordham University.

Passaro enjoys writing and translating works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In some book reviews, Longfellow’s work was often seen as more beautiful in Italian than in English.

“Longfellow translated from Italian to English in his original works,” said Passaro.

Although there are many books published that transform the language of literature, Passaro’s books are different. She translates the Italian as closely as she can to the English language so readers can get the full effect of each poem.

“Some of the translated books don’t put the original [poem] purposely, so you don’t check,” said Passaro.

Of Passaro’s 11 books, her most recent translation was of “Corradino,” a tragedy by Francesco Mario Pagano, published in 2014.

Passaro also recently translated the poem “Rhymes of Love” by Renaissance poet Torquato Tasso.

Another recent book Passaro wrote is called “Representation of Women in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Texts.”

“It’s not a feminist book, it just [portrays] the beauty of women and how it molds the soul of the poet,” said Passaro. “I’m giving credit to women for what the poets did.”

One of Passaro’s personal favorite poems includes “Michelangelo” from “The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow.” She wrote a translation into Italian verse of “Michelangelo”.

“If you read it, you will see the beautiful iambic pentameters,” said Passaro.

Passaro has also published dozens of articles and essays, including a few journalistic publications.

“I have many essays where I just contribute a chapter,” said Passaro. “Working with other people is nice.”

Passaro also recently wrote a short nine-line poem, called “L’Europa Unita” in Italian, which in translates to “United Europe.”

The most recent book in progress has two parts: “A Selection of Medieval Italian Literary Texts” and “A Selection of Renaissance Italian Literary Texts.” The sections are separated by time period, from beginning to end. Passaro is still unsure if the two books will be combined at this point.

She said she taught Italian courses 470 and 476 using the material she will be publishing.

“I also put it online so students could see both Italian and English if they had trouble,” said Passaro.

When asked about what kind of poems she likes to use in the classroom, Passaro said she likes to “stay with one act plays because they’re easy to represent.”

As for the future of book translation, Passaro remains hopeful that the most important texts will continue to be translated.

Trump’s New National Security Advisor

Image result for H R McMaster

by Sarah Willson

There should be no concern over new White House National Security Adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, according to Jerold Arquette, a political science professor at Central Connecticut State University.

“There’s nothing in this guy’s background that should make us worry about that, he is a very bright, intellectually engaged person,” said Arquette. “That’s why he has such a good reputation across the political spectrum.”

McMaster was selected for the position last Monday, Feb. 20.

“He is highly respected by everyone in the military, and we’re very honored to have him,” said President Donald Trump.

Many agree with Trump’s statement, including Arquette, a professor of 17 years at CCSU. He noted McMaster’s excellent reputation, despite the fact that his personal politics differ greatly from the president’s.

McMaster, who is currently still serving as a member of the United States Army, served in the Persian Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When asked about combating terrorism from the Middle East, Arquette said he believed that McMaster’s experience overseas would most likely benefit the United States.

“I think it will [benefit the U.S.],” said Arquette. “These are positions of civilian leadership, so the idea that he is a current general does cause some consternation.”

“There are some folks who worry that generals give a certain kind of advice, and that they might be less inclined towards diplomacy, but I’m not sure that’s so true,” said Arquette, believing that McMaster will ultimately do more good for the U.S. than bad.

Arquette also stated that McMaster was a “vast improvement” over Trump’s previous security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Flynn originally held the position and resigned after it was believed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Press Secretary Sean Spicer about conversations that took place with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which caused three repeated public falsehoods.

McMaster differs from Trump and Flynn in the sense that he does not support a friendship with Russia, a country Trump believes is vital when it comes to helping combat terrorism in the Middle East.

At one point in time, McMaster called Russia “a growing threat to the West,” believing that it poses a substantial threat to U.S. national security.

Concerned about Trump and McMaster’s opposing views, Arquette said that he hopes he will “provide a necessary perspective to a president who doesn’t have much perspective.”

“The president’s posture towards Russia isn’t based on policy,” said Arquette. “It’s based on politics.”

More than anything, Arquette said he hopes McMaster will be able to guide and educate Trump about foreign policy.

“I’m pleased that he now has a national security adviser who is both respected across the aisle and clearly a substantive thinking intellectual person,” said Arquette. “I don’t think you have to be a liberal to admit that Trump doesn’t know anything about foreign policy.”

Arquette added that he wanted McMaster to be “a source of wisdom, objectivity and professionalism for his boss.”

When McMaster was announced as the national security adviser, he said he is grateful to Trump for the opportunity, and he looks forward to joining the national security team. McMaster said that he will do everything he can to protect the interests of the American people.

Plane Crash in East Haven Creates Talk Across Connecticut

Image result for east haven plane crash

by Sarah Willson

When it was revealed that the planes involved in the crashes in East Haven last Wednesday and in East Hartford last October were owned by the same man, Central Connecticut State University senior Julia DiSapio felt uneasy and confused.

“I think that he should have gone through most tests and regulations,” said DiSapio, referring to the aircraft owner, emphasizing that the Federal Aviation Administration should have done more to investigate the former situation before putting a plane back in the air.

According to East Haven police officials, after a plane went down last Wednesday, Feb. 22, one man was killed and another was critically injured.

DiSapio expressed her concern over the fact that this has been both the aircraft owner’s and the Connecticut Flight Academy’s second crash within the past four months.

According to family members and the East Haven Police Department, the man killed in the crash was 31-year-old Pablo Campos Isona, East Haven resident and flight student.

The person in critical condition has been identified as Rafayel Hany Wasser, a 20-year-old resident of New Haven and a known flight instructor at Connecticut Flight Academy. Wasser is currently being treated at Yale New Haven Hospital.

It is believed that both people involved in the crash were the only two people on board when the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk went down.

According to senior air safety investigator Robert Gretz, from the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot and student involved in the crash were doing practice take-offs and landings, known as “touch and go’s,” when an unidentified emergency was reported.

“They reported a generic emergency, a mayday, but they weren’t specific, and in trying to get back to the airport, the aircraft nosed down into a swamp area,” said Gretz.

It is unsure as to who was controlling the aircraft when the crash took place.

Due to the fact that it was a dual-controlled aircraft, it is possible that both pilots could have been simultaneously controlling the plane.

Officials plan to look into who was piloting the aircraft when it went down as part of the investigation.

The demolished aircraft, which crashed into swampy waters outside of airport property, was found 25 yards south of Runway 2.

A recovery company from Delaware paid a visit to East Haven on Thursday, Feb. 23, to remove the plane from the swamp and has shipped it over to Delaware in order to further investigate what could have gone wrong during the final moments before the crash.

The NTSB stated that their “preliminary report” could be released as soon as March 3, but their final report could take up to a year.

According to meteorologists, there were no known weather problems that could have played into the crash.

According to WTNH Connecticut, only 12 percent of fatal airplane crashes are weather related. 53 percent are due to total pilot error.

Officials said that muddy, icy conditions, tall grass and up to two feet of water made it difficult for fire crews to locate the aircraft.

It has been roughly four years since East Haven has seen a plane crash, when a small aircraft crashed into two homes, leaving four dead.

Fake News, Real Consequences

by Sarah Willson

Fake news can fill in the spaces of people’s knowledge with misleading information and is being spread through the modern-day media model of developing a target audience for advertisers to pay to reach, according to Craig Silverman the Media Editor at BuzzFeed.

Fallacies are increasingly being spread as individuals, particularly teenagers from Macedonia, use the modern-day media model for profit, explained Silverman.

They create a fake news site, write articles that satisfy the opinions of individuals, make multiple fake social media accounts and share the article to imitate traffic on the website. These “purely partisan and purely emotionally driven sites” are then able to make money from advertisers without them knowing it is a fake site.

“The headline [of news stories] often grabs people, but it’s often what is misleading people,” said Silverman. “Fake news sometimes fills in the gaps of people’s knowledge,” said the Toronto native to a crowd of about 110 people, Thursday night Feb. 16, at a presentation run by the Central Connecticut State University’s Department of Journalism about the current surge of fake news online.

Silverman explained how certain biased, untruthful and fake news sites are misinforming and confusing many Americans, and being spread through social media and fake news sites. Emotionally driven articles receive more of a reaction and in turn, more traffic, “because it makes an argument they want to push forward,” said Silverman.

The major factors that ultimately drive misinformation and misperceptions into the public eye. These include propaganda, hoaxes, un-credible news websites and fake news.

Fake news can come about within a society, emphasizing the fact that it often arises due to strong emotions and beliefs, according to Silverman, who is also the author of “Regret the Error,” where he reported on the issues and trends regarding the accuracy of the media.

“Rumors emerge in situations of uncertainty, fear or lack information,” said Silverman. “There’s never been a communication platform with that many people in history,” said Silverman, referring to social media, which he believes ultimately makes the public more susceptible to fake news.

Facebook, in particular, was notorious for spreading fake news during the 2016 election. The algorithmic filtering and lack of differentiating on social media account puts avid social media users in a “partisan echo-chamber,” said Silverman. This gives misleading and emotionally driven fake news sites an environment to thrive in.

According to a study done by Silverman, between February and Election Day, the total number of shares, reactions and comments for a piece of content on a Facebook source, soared from three million to 8.7 million.

Silverman believes this is due to a battle for attention; saying that it is fiercer than ever before, as social media has “achieved a scale unheard of in the history of human communication.”

One CCSU student had a lot to say about the epidemic of fake news like Silverman emphasizing how it’s taking a toll on the American people.

“If I want to stay informed about anything that is going on, I should probably come and see someone that’s speaking about it that has actual background in the media,” said freshman Amanda Rotch.

More than anything, Rotch was particularly concerned with President Donald Trump’s take on the media.

“I think it’s his way of dodging facts that he decides aren’t putting him in a good light,” said Rotch, referring to Trump’s comments about the media. “He’s finding a way to warp it so that the people who are reporting the facts about him are the ones that are at fault.”

“I think that he’s a businessman” said Rotch. “They’re very good at mincing their words.”

When asked about how to combat fake news, Rotch said she believed informing the public about it was the best way to stop it.

“Even stuff like having someone come here, who’s in the industry, and give a talk on fake news and his opinion and everything, I think is a way to help inform people and help them feel like they know what’s going on,” said Rotch.

Silverman also gave his opinion on the best way to not only stop fake news, but also how to regain the trust of journalists, who often bear the brunt of dealing with misinformation.

Silverman argued that ground rules need to be established when it comes to regaining the trust of journalists.

“The price for mistakes is greater,” said Silverman, believing that some journalists need to “slow down” in order to make sure they get the facts right before they are presented.

As for combating fake news, Silverman says the best way to do it is by informing others that what they are often seeing, reading and sharing is not always accurate.

“Don’t attack the person who shares the fake news, and don’t be confrontational,” said Silverman. “Listen to what they have to say, have a human conversation.”

Silverman also recommended showing the person trustworthy news sites.

For further information about fake news and how to combat it, Silverman recommended visiting thenewsliteracyproject.org, which informs and educates young people about journalistic integrity and the difference between facts and fiction.

PewDiePie’s ‘Fall’ and Media That Makes Journalists Look Bad

 

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by Kristina Vakhman

YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, found himself in the middle of a “scandal” last week when the Wall Street Journal branded him as anti-Semitic.

The Journal’s report featured a compilation of nine of Kjellberg’s videos where he incorporated either Nazi imagery or anti-Semitic humor.

Since then, other news outlets joined in the biggest YouTuber’s condemnation, linking him to a fascist and accusing him of normalizing the alt-right’s controversial views.

The debacle forced Disney’s subsidiary, Maker Studios, to drop their partnership with Kjellberg. Moreover, YouTube cancelled the second season of his YouTube Red show, “Scare PewDiePie,” as well as removed the PewDiePie channel from their Google Preferred advertising program.

Contrary to headlines, Kjellberg has not “fallen” from his dominant YouTube throne. In fact, his 53 million subscriber count has only grown.

Additionally, fellow YouTubers and his fanbase have been quick to point out that the Journal’s video deliberately takes scenes from Kjellberg’s work out of context. It is also edited to make the material seem far darker than what Kjellberg intended in the initial content.

In one video, since deleted from his channel, Kjellberg poked fun at the absurdity of Fiverr.com, where freelancers do practically anything for five dollars. To see how far the vendors would go, Kjellberg put in ridiculous requests, including asking two men to unfurl a banner reading “Death to all Jews” as they danced and laughed in the middle of a jungle.

While others denied Kjellberg’s ludicrous demands and threatened to report him for violating the site’s guidelines, the two men followed through with what he had requested.

In another video, Kjellberg compared the Nazi Party to the YouTube Heroes program, which gives users abilities that can be easily abused, like mass-flagging videos. Kjellberg is seen watching one of Adolf Hitler’s speeches.

The Journal’s depiction of these scenarios completely cuts out the original context. No other sides of the situation are shown, hence perpetuating the narrative that Kjellberg is anti-Semitic. Knowing the full substance of the complete videos sheds new light and dismantles the Journal’s argument.

Instead of examples of anti-Semitism, these instances were Kjellberg’s attempts at shock humor that — even he admits in his apology video — were of bad taste and poorly executed.

Of course, this does not excuse Kjellberg from making such crude jokes.

Maker Studios was right to sever times with him, considering the welcoming, inclusive image that Disney has spent years developing and maintaining. Losing his place on YouTube’s Google Preferred, which deemed his content “family-friendly,” is also understandable; it’s a shock that his channel was listed there in the first place, judging by his material.

However, the media labeling Kjellberg as a fascist or an anti-Semite, and purposely taking his videos out of context to fit that narrative, is not fair; it’s defamation.

Additionally, it undermines the credibility of the press.

With President Donald Trump claiming that any negative media is “fake news,” a situation where a slanderous piece of work can actually be deemed “fake” solidifies the argument. This is evident by the public’s reaction to the Journal’s attack on Kjellberg; while the Journal has long been considered a reputable news source, this one-sided report has caused many to turn away from them and from those that added fire to their flame.

The journalists who conceived the piece received so much hate that they privatized their Twitter accounts; the compilation related to the article has a massive dislike-to-like ratio.

More importantly, marking Kjellberg as the face of the alt-right movement — which he has unequivocally disavowed in numerous statements — is dangerous. It does exactly what the Journal and others accused him of doing: trivializing genuine racism and hatred.

He is a YouTube personality whose jokes went too far; aiming the dart at his forehead when there is an ample amount of actual neo-Nazis and racists scouring the Internet is a mistake.

Instead of pouncing on “edgy” comedy, the media should be focusing on real menaces.