Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Dept. of Labor & Industry Layoffs / All the News That's Fit to Flush

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, Smart Talk | Dec 11, 2016 3:00 AM

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What to expect on Smart Talk on Monday, December 12th:

Gridlock at the state Capitiol is leaving Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry with a 57 million dollar budget gap resulting in the layoffs of more than 500 state employees.

A stopgap measure to keep the department's Unemployment Call Centers open was passed in the House, but the Senate walked away without voting on the proposal as the 2015-2016 legislative session expired, essentially killing the bill.

Governor Tom Wolf said that without the funding for the department, he had no choice but to initiate the lay-offs.  Republican lawmakers contend that funding for the call centers has been misspent and that oversight of the department is inadequate.

So, these state employees find themselves jobless, right before the holidays.  So what is next for unemployed unemployment professionals?

Karla Hodges is the Assistant to the Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Chapter 13 serving Harrisburg.  She will join Smart Talk's Scott LaMar to talk about what went wrong and how employees are coping with layoffs scheduled for the end of the week.

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Karla Hodges - Assistant Executive Director, AFSCME #13

Also, fake news stories have proliferated across the internet and social media in the last year.  Given the shift of attention from print and broadcast news to online content, this has created an atmosphere where Americans are reading and sharing false and misleading stories with alarming regularity.

Such a paradigm shift has proliferated during the the 2016 presidential election and is being criticized for an increase in hate crimes and online harassment.

Smart Talk will speak with S. Shyam Sundar, a professor of media studies at Penn State about the explosion of fake news sites and their impact on public opinion.  WITF News Director Tim Lambert will discuss the challenges of navigating the news landscape and NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik will talk about reconnecting Americans with legitimate news sources.

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S. Shyam Sunder / David Folkneflik / Tim Lambert


on L&I loayoffs:

- With Artificial Intelligence and robotics evolving faster and faster ---- at some point human actions will be merely adjunct. As machines become adaptably capable of doing whatever it is humans now do.........there will only be select jobs that humans can continue to do, or do better than, the robot workforce.
What will this do to us? People need jobs for income, for sense of purposefulness, for sense of self-worth. Employment is necessary, yet the employment is disappearing as the demographic grows.   - Robert

on fake news:

- When major news organizations that are now concentrated in a few powerful hands stop pretending that everything our government and they promulgate is the truth then perhaps a serious conversation about "False News" can begin. Until then, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.   - Mike.

- False news doesn't just affect politics.  The internet is awash with stories about phony science, unsubstantiated conspiracy stories and invalid logical arguments.  Most news consumers have no training in critical thinking and do not know how to separate valid reasoning from emotional appeals. They can be mislead to products and ideas that waste money, distort reality, and put their health, wealth and resources in jeopardy.

We need to be educating or populace logic and critical thinking, starting at a very early age.  But many folks are wary of these skills as they put their own sacred cows at risk.            - Kate

- Facebook has recently come under fire to be the watchdog of monitoring the creation and dissemination of fake news on their platform.  I'm not sure if Twitter is also being asked to be held accountable for the same purpose.  Do your guests feel that the social media platforms should have a system in place for the debunking of fake news and do they have any ideas on how this could work?    - Mark

- What is the difference between "fake news" and "spinning the news?"      - Tom

"Fake news contains false information, with little or no basis in fact.  It's not even "fake news." It's a lie or propaganda. Spinning the news is when the facts of the story are slanted to a particular point of view. A good example would be a recent post some conservative sites produced about how the White House spokesman said "embittered WW II veterans should get over Pearl Harbor." When you read the actual story, you read a partisan recap first. By the time you get the actual quotes, you can clearly see they were taken out of context and given meaning that wasn't actually there."  -- Tim Lambert, WITF's Multimedia News Director


- Fake news has been around forever. I can remember as a child in the grocery store isle looking at pictures of aliens in the National Enquirer. trump has even repeated TABLOID headlines about Ted Cruz's father. We need a Ministry of Truth monitoring and correcting the "Fake" news media.     - Thomas


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