The publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel insisted Wednesday night that he's getting his "ducks in a row" in preparation to sue Colorado State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) for labeling the Sentinel "fake news."
"Have you attempted to patch things up with Sen. Scott?" 9News anchor Kyle Clark asked Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel last night, prior to panel discussion on media issues streamed on Facebook. "You're going to be covering him for years to come. There's nothing to be gained by media outlets fighting with public officials like this."
"The only valuable currency in the court system is truth, and so I would like to see how a court actually handles this kind of false allegation," responded Seaton, insisting that he hasn’t abandoned his plan, announced last month, to file a lawsuit against Scott for his claim that the Sentinel is "fake news."
The panel, titled Getting to Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts, was held to mark "Sunshine Week," which promotes openness in government. The event was organized by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, and it was hosted by 9News.
Panelists offered varied takes on the fake-news issue, ranging from, "It's all in the eye of the beholder," according to State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), to, "It's become incredibly cliche; it's an easy way out for people to attack us," according to Denver7 investigator Tony Kovaleski.
In its online description of the panelists, 9News pointed out that Neville "recently posted an article that that was found to be 100% false by Snopes.com."
"Politicians know how to weaponize [fake news] against us," said Corey Hutchins, a reporter with the Colorado Independent, a progressive news site. "That's what we're seeing. The new problem is, it's being weaponized by politicians against the media."
Liberty advocate Ari Armstrong, also on the panel, argued that it's inevitable that journalists will make mistakes, and he's troubled when folks conflate "actual fake news, people intending to mislead their readers, with reputable newspapers."
"What I want to strive to do is, yes, point it out when I think journalists get it wrong, but be quicker to applaud all those times when they do a great job, which is most of the time," said Armstrong.
Also on the panel was Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute in Tampa Florida, Linda Shapley, managing editor of The Denver Post, Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, Anastasiya Bolton, a reporter at 9NEWS.
Watch the entire panel discussion here. You'll definitely enjoy it.