Fact or Fiction panel at Emerge will explore tough issues facing media and marketing industry

At the 2018 Emerge Conference, Heath Applebaum, president of Echo Communications Inc. and a sought-after speaker on media issues, will lead a thought-provoking panel called: Fact or Fiction.

He will be joined by award-winning author and Toronto Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, and subject matter experts Patricia Parsons, former Chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, and Tom Henheffer, former Executive Director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and former Director of News and Digital at VICE Canada, to discuss a variety of interconnected issues confronting media, marketing professionals and the public at large.


“We are seeing the emergence of influencers and an avalanche of biased online information that is laced with alternative facts. A blurring of   what is objective news coverage and what is sponsored, or paid advertorials,” Applebaum noted.


“The media industry has been disrupted and is going through an identity crisis,” said Applebaum. “We have seen a loss of one-third of Canada’s journalists over the past decade, so there are far fewer stories being told, and local newspapers are being shut down. The Toronto Star had 400 journalists 10 years ago and now they have half of that.” The traditional media model is broken, so who will fill that void?   Freelancers and bloggers?


With so much misinformation online, it is crucial that we all become more media literate. Applebaum offers five simple ways that we can differentiate between fake and real news:


  1. Consider the source: Click away from the source, check out the website, consider why it may be written the way it is.
  2. Read beyond the headlines: Be skeptical: clickbait headlines are becoming the norm. Editors and reporters are often pressured to make things more provocative and sensationalized to get clicks and shares, to generate more money for advertising.
  3. Research the author: Are they credible? Is the story biased or objectively presenting the whole picture?
  4. Determine what’s supporting this story: Is there legitimate research and facts to back up their claims?  Or are they using anonymous sources and speculating?
  5. Try to find independent experts that have no skin in the game.


With 20 years of experience as both a freelance writer and a public relations professional, Applebaum and his all-star panel will be sharing valuable advice to us as media consumers, and future media professionals. His most valuable piece of advice for young people entering the media industry? “In one word, versatility,” said Applebaum. “Because things are changing so rapidly, today’s media graduates will need a broad skillset. Being a good writer used to be enough, but now you need to be a good writer, a photographer, a videographer, understand HTML, analytics, WordPress and understand SEO.” However, he also reminds would-be media professionals not to give up. “It’s important that young people are resilient. At some point in your careers, you will lose your job, you will have to pivot and adapt. So build good relationships and friendships with people across your industry, so when you face that turbulence in your career, you will be buoyant.”


Applebaum’s panel: Fact or Fiction will take place Thurs. March 22, 2018 at 10:20 a.m. at the Toronto Assembly Hall. To hear more, purchase your tickets at http://www.emergeconference.ca/tickets/


By: Laura Squires and Eva Osterlee


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