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Press Clips: Trio of Local Media Pros Score $10K Grant to Tackle "Pink Slime" and Other Horrors of Online Misinformation

For readers of a certain age, the words "pink slime" may trigger images of muscilaginous crud, a meat by-product scandalously stuffed into burger meat as filler.

For three Santa Barbara journalists, however, "pink slime" describes an even more insidious hazard, now threatening the body politic: "Pink slime journalism" brands an epidemic of fake reporting, posted by partisan political hacks on Potemkin sites designed to look like authentic news outlets, now poisoning the minds of hard-working, low-information follks without the time to sort it all out. Everywhere.

Which calls back Hannah Arendt:

"'What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed… If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer.… And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge."

This just in. Writer Starshine Roshell returned to Newsmakers on Friday to discuss the real time global cataclysm of digital misinformation, disinformation, and pink slime that, among other toxic impacts, fuels the grievances of hotheads with guns, super spreads harmful wingnut conspiracies, and advances the corrosion of truth, along with most other values of a liberal democracy, now under sustained attack from authoritarians.

She also dropped a little news: The national Association of Women in Communications (AWC) Advancement Fund has awarded a $10,000 grant, aimed at building programming to teach media literacy in Santa Barbara, to a partnership of Roshell, public radio honcho Lisa Osborn and editor Amy Orozco.

The new enterprise can build on work that Starshine began back in 2021, in connection with the News Literacy Project, with a presentation called "Truth Decay."

It's mostly been a one-woman labor of love since, but Starshine is passionate about extending the reach and broadening the scope of her personal crusade on behalf of Actual Facts, science, truthfulness, accuracy and decency, as well as the mental hygiene of those smitten with social media sickness, transformed by propaganda, or misled by some digital crook or con man, to name but a few of the noxious repercussions of bathing online daily in a swill of lies.

At a time when citizens increasingly get their information from social media, or bias-affirming news and information siloes (this is your periodic reminder that 70 percent of Republicans do not believe President Biden was legitimately elected, and nearly one of five Americans say he, not Donald Trump, is responsible for the Superme Court overturning Roe v Wade), the effort to throw a framework of critical thinking and journalistic fact-checking around the torrents of mis and dis information which pour over us each day is an essential but daunting one.

The AWC Three answer: a journey of a thousand miles...

Their grant was awarded to develop a program called, "Moment of Truth: Sorting Fact from Fiction in the Misinformation Age."

"'Moment of Truth' will empower curious citizens of all ages to use critical thinking and journalistic fact-checking tools at a time when elections, AI and social media make it especially tricky to know what’s real," the journos said in a statement announcing the $10K.

"Learn how to spot doctored images, check sources, resist falling for “ragebait” — and avoid being called out by your friends online for posting fake news. (Don’t be that guy!)," they added.

Starting in August, the group will offer training workshops, customized for each audience - targeted for schools, non-profits, community organizations and others - that present practical strategies and tactics for discerning truth from lies and facts from alternative facts.

Teachers, group facilitators and nonprofit leaders can submit requests now for presentations beginning in August, via:


Check out our conversation with Starshine Roshell via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Channel 17, broadcasts Newsmakers every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on weekends. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program on 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

Image: L-R Lisa Osborn, Starshine Roshell, Amy Orozco (Monie Photography).

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