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Journalism and Truth in an Age of Social Media$
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James E. Katz and Kate K. Mays

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190900250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190900250.001.0001

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Canards, Fausses Nouvelles, Paranoid Style

Canards, Fausses Nouvelles, Paranoid Style

Classic Authors for an Emerging Phenomenon

(p.119) 7 Canards, Fausses Nouvelles, Paranoid Style
Journalism and Truth in an Age of Social Media

Peppino Ortoleva

Oxford University Press

Fake news has been cyclically surfacing in the history of journalism and public opinion. In the vein of some classic authors, the chapter identifies ideas that are surprisingly useful in the present media environment. It interweaves three historical threads relevant to today’s fake news: (1) the growth of canards in 19th-century Paris, observed by both Honoré de Balzac and Gérard de Nerval as the habitual invention of news when facts were not sufficiently attractive for readers; (2) the diffusion of fausses nouvelles during the Great War, described by Marc Bloch and propelled by the tendency, in times of crisis, to search for oracles more than information proper; (3) the propensity, suggested by Richard Hofstadter, to spread conspiracy theories, notably in the development of McCarthyism.

Keywords:   newscycle, signs, style, canards, conspiracy, fake news, Honoré de Balzac, Gérard de Nerval, Mark Bloch, Richard Hofstadter

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