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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Sonia Nazario Speaking At Restoring Civility Conference

Sonia Nazario in an undated photo.
Courtesy photo
Sonia Nazario in an undated photo.

When the nation first heard about "fake news," it referred to false news stories planted by internet trolls trying to sow discord. The meaning has since changed as some politicians have claimed that news stories published by established media outlets were really "fake news."

The confusion has undermined political discussions nationally and that’s why it’s the topic of the seventh annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue.

The conference is put on, in part, by the University of San Diego's Institute for Civil Civic Engagement. The theme of this year’s conference is "Media Literacy: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World."


One of the featured participants of the conference is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario, author of “Enrique’s Journey.”

Nazario will discuss immigration and journalism at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation on Wednesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets can be found here. Nazario will give a presentation on "pluralism, truth and the modern media" at San Diego City College on Thursday from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

She will join Midday Edition Wednesday to discuss the importance of combating "fake news" claims.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Sonia Nazario Speaking At Restoring Civility Conference
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Sonia Nazario Speaking At Restoring Civility Conference GUEST:Sonia Nazario, journalist and author, “Enrique’s Journey”

>>> When the nation first heard about fake news, it preferred the faults new stories planted by trolls on the web. And then the meaning changed as politician claimed that new stories published by established media outlets for fake news. The confusion has undermined our political discussions. That is why it is a topic of the seventh Avenue conference on restoring civility to civic dialogue at the University of San Diego. The theme this year is finding truth in a post-truth world. One of the feature participants of the conference joins me now by Skye. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Sony Rosario author of in case journey. Welcome to the program. What you think the effect has been of this label of fake news being hurled at responsible news media ? >> I think that it has undermined quite seriously the way people view the media. In the last two years, this has come from the loudest mouthpiece in the country from president donald trump. He has betrayed the press asks,, the lowest form of life, as not patriotic, I view myself as very patriotic and not the lowest form of life. What we have seen as a result is the same polarization we see in society as a whole, but the Poynter Institute did a study showing that confidence in media reporting is the biggest we see the biggest gap since 1985. 74% of Democrats believe or have confidence in the media but only 19% of Republicans. We are in a world of hurt. It is time to push back. I think on issues that I covered that are among the most polarizing like immigration, I think that confidence has perhaps been most eroded and we see the greatest polarization in terms of people believing what we report. >>> Some politicians are dismissing the issues completely with the term fake news. Does that make it harder to actually discuss the substance of news reports, the substance of issues? >> I think it does. I think first we have to recognize that there is an effort to portray reason and objectivity as elitist. I have seen this playbook before. In a much stronger way. I grew up in part in Argentina in Latin America. I was there during the so-called dirty war when the military took power and disappeared 30,000 people, killed them. The first people the military went after was the media. They talked about fake news. They said that what was happening was not true. So people did not understand the magnitude of what was happening all around them. I became a journalist are decided to become a journalist when I was 14 years old and I saw two journalists murder down the street from where I live. You need a group of people who are willing to hold people in power accountable whether they are blue or red or purple or Green. >>> The recent statements by president donald trump about caravans of dangerous immigrants heading to Mexico to the U.S. touches on the subject you know very well. Tell us about your articles in the book Enriquez journey. >> Enriquez journey is the first book read and SAN DIEGO. It looks at the millions of single moms who have come here from Mexico from Central America in recent years. They left children behind in their home countries thinking they would be separated one or two years. The separations it is harder in the U.S. than they think. The separation stretch five or 10 years of more. What I found was tens of thousands of these children every year with despair would set off on their own to find their mothers in the United States and would make this harrowing journey through Mexico gripping onto the tops of freight trains because they have little or no money to travel with. They face bandits or gangsters who control the tops of the trades and corrupt cops. Most of them did not make it to one piece to our borders. I started looking at this phenomenon two decades ago. Most of these kids back then were coming to find a mom. Now many of these kids are coming to find a mom. But there has been this radical shift and white people are coming to the United States which has not been acknowledged to many politicians. In recent years three countries in Central America Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, have been the most violent countries on the Earth. These children are now fleeing for their lives they are refugees. Those people qualify under our laws to ask for asylum at our borders. No border patrol agent will stop that person unless we change our asylum laws which president donald trump calls Loopholes I called him laws. >>> You studied this issue for years. Because of our divisive politics, is your expertise sometimes now dismissed as biased? >> I don't speak to some of the most conservative parts of the United States. I was recently at Auburn Alabama, Circe Arkansas, sometimes they hire security guards for my talks they are afraid someone will attack me because this is on the immigration issue. But I think when a leading -- lay things out, when you legalize people it is easy to bring people out of the shadows and for immigrants to not live in tremendous fear. We are now seeing kids going to school -- in California 17% of children K-12 have a parent who is a documented. They fear that that parent will walk out the door and be picked up by tran 28. Apprehensions have gone up by 45% under president donald trump. Kids are having their hair fall out, they are getting nervous twitches, they are crying in class because of the stress. >>> How do you think responsible journalist should combat this accusation of fake news. >> I think we need to be much more transparent about what we do and how we do it. And why we do it. With Enriquez journey, I was trying to look at why -- look at the new face of migrants coming to this country, women and children. We laid out in the newspaper 7000 footnotes showing not only why we were reporting this issue but how we went about reporting it. People had a roadmap. They could see how we source the information. I think that is important. We need to be much better at telling the public why we are telling certain stories, why we think there are important stories to tell, and how we go about telling them. Often president donald trump says there were no sources on that story. The Washington Post had nine sources on that story. They should lay that out and show that a lot of people are saying this and why. >>> I have been speaking with author and journalist Sonja Rosario who will be hosting an event at city College on Thursday in connection with restoring said respect the civility and civic dialogue and that will be today on the University of San Diego campus. Thank you very much, Sonja. >>> Thank you.