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Creative Fake News Journalism

SPJ trademarks ‘fake news’ and sends Trump a cease and desist letter


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

October 22, 2019 | 3 min read

President Trump uses the term ‘fake news’ whenever he doesn’t like something the press says about him in order to discredit the stories, and the Florida Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has had enough.

SPJ fake news

SPJ trademarks the term 'fake news'

The SPJ, the US’s oldest and largest journalism advocacy organization, decided to trademark the term ‘fake news’ in hopes of stopping the president from using the term haphazardly. Every time he uses it incorrectly, the organization will send him a cease and desist letter.

A launch video features a journalist explaining why the term was trademarked – fake news is not actually news at all, so when the president uses the term to discredit real news, he is now in violation of the trademark – and how the group will enforce it.

“Trump has popularized the idea that all mainstream media is lying and corrupt. Labeling stories that are critical of him as ‘fake news’ is an effective weapon,” said Emily Bloch, president, SPJ Florida Pro Chapter. “We’re now seeing people using the term to dismiss truthful stories that don’t align with their politics or views. And that’s a major problem for healthy discourse in a democracy.”

In addition to filing for a trademark on the term, SPJ Florida Pro Chapter will be sending out cease and desist letters to other frequent abusers of the term.

“It may seem absurd, or even extreme, to attempt to trademark a popular term like ‘fake news,’ but we’re hoping the idea is provocative enough to get people to stop and think about how they use the term or what it means when others use it,” added Bloch. “After all, the vast majority of news you hear called ‘fake’ isn’t actually fake.”

The project was created in partnership with Calgary-based creative agency Wax.

The video drives people to, which has tips on how to spot actual fake news and what journalists are doing to ensure they report the truth.

Society of Professional Journalists: Fake News trademark by Wax

By Society of Professional Journalists

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