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University of Florida Launching Fellowships to Combat Disinformation

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(Image credit: Future Media)

Florida real estate developers Ken and Linda McGurn have donated $2 million to the University of Florida (they are both alumni) to launch a Fellowship Program for Media Integrity and the Fight Against Disinformation.

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The money will go to fellowships at the university's College of Journalism and Communications, Levin College of Law and the Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology.

One of the legacies of President Donald Trump was his undermining of the credibility of the mainstream media, branding stories critical of him as fake news, as well as his support of debunked conspiracy theories as news and/or information.

The scholarships will go to lawyers and scholars as well as journalists in an effort to combat the "perilous trend" of lack of trust in news and information. “The spread of false information and increasing distrust of credible news organizations is a scourge that is polarizing our nation and endangering our ability to survive as a democracy,” said Linda McGurn in a statement.

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The goals of the program are to "[d]evelop ways to educate the public about disinformation and the technology that contributes to its spread; regulate disinformation within the confines of the First Amendment; and support reporting and decision-making rooted in evidence and facts."

That effort will include courses, workshops, white papers and policy proposals.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.