UL researcher and journalist Muireann Prendergast is looking to the past to figure out how to tackle ‘fake news’ today.

History buffs might recall Argentina’s tumultuous political situation in the latter half of the 20th century, in particular the military junta that ruled it from 1976 to 1983.

As you would imagine, media censorship was rampant. According to journalist and University of Limerick researcher Muireann Prendergast, it provides a good ‘fake news’ snapshot.

Speaking on the Researchfest stage at Inspirefest 2018, Prendergast said she studied 200,000 words of text and 12 cartoons from three newspapers in favour of dictator Jorge Rafael Videla in 1977 and three opposed to him.

By trying to see how specific events were presented and how nuance could shape a viewpoint depending on their bias, Prendergast believes her findings could shed light on how media is suppressed or influenced today.

It also shows the critical role of journalism and how it is not just relevant in real time, but as a historical reference point in the future.

Words by Colm Gorey