About Simon Denyer
Simon Denyer is a journalist with the Washington Post. He was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work in India, where he covered some of the most dangerous stories. His new book Rogue Elephant: Harnessing The Power Of India’s Unruly Democracy details how Indian democracy has evolved and what that means for its future.
Simon Denyer spoke to Scroll in an exclusive interview about India’s changing news consumption habits, how that affects journalism and democracy, and what academics can learn from journalists. The following are excerpts from the interview:
Simon Denyer in Washington Post says There’s no doubt that social media has helped mainstream fake news. I don’t think it’s too strong to say that it has threatened democracy or contributed to this crisis of faith in our institutions around the world. I’m not convinced yet, that people are abandoning traditional sources like newspapers, TV, and radio for an online connection, even if they’re only getting their information online. But clearly, there is a problem with young people refusing to pay for information.
According to a study that analyzed millions of social media posts before and after the general elections this year, Simon Denyer believes Fake news is being used by political parties to polarize voters. This is again encouraging people not to turn up at voting booths. If enough people don’t turn up, democracy can’t function properly because elected representatives will decide issues rather than the entire population resolving issues through voting.
We need a new system where newspapers play a part in fact-checking or verifying claims made during election campaigns by political parties – like an editor’s certificate that gives their readers accuracy. It’s challenging for politicians to provide such a certificate because they can’t be trusted. But if newspapers had the power to do that, it could help. We know that if people are more informed about an issue, they’re more likely to vote.