I’d like to take a little bit of time to talk about fake news.
As a former mass communications major, I have always respected and trusted the gateway of information. Throughout my adult life I have scoured newspapers, watched newscasts, and generally paid attention to what is happening in our world. With the advent of social media, I began picking through sources to find the ones most trustworthy.
But now, the term “fake news” dominates even the news itself. What of what we read and listen to is true? How is that gateway holding up? I spent many years defending the media, but I can’t do that anymore. I still read CNN’s site every night before I fall asleep and watch morning news, but not with the tenacity I used to.
I think that might be why I’ve become so attached to academic writing. As Dan Rather said of the genre to the Association of American University Presses last year, “Our country needs you and your work right now…. Do that with courage and gusto. You cannot waiver, hesitate, or cower…. What you do matters.” (this article in Publishers Weekly has that quote)
My very first paid indexing job was an academic piece on public restrooms as it pertains to gender fluidity. And this was long before the “real news” covered events on this issue in detail. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that monograph set a tone for my work to come.
I find a sense of trust in academic writing. Because of that, I feel a powerful sense of responsibility. I am aware that the audience of these writings can be much different than that of other books I index. The discourse community knows what they are looking for, and using the index can be a tool used like no other reading community.
The importance of indexes in academic writing is not lost on me. I take the job very seriously.
I know some news is fake. Just because someone writes it doesn’t make it true. But I know in these peer-reviewed scholarly books, the information is very real. And I appreciate all the authors, reviewers, editors, and publishers who make sure of it.