I’m sure that’s one of the questions that you asked yourself over the course of the election campaign last year. It was a messy whirlwind of insults and slurs mixed with unprecedented behavior from those running for president of the United States.
When the dust settled and the smoke cleared we were left with Mr. Donald J. Trump as our 45th president. Wow! What a ride. Although we are now “knee deep” in Trump’s America one of the things that stood out the most during his campaign, now presidency, was his feud with the press. It was during his first press conference as president, when Trump pointed at CNN’s Jim Acosta and declared the network as “Fake News”. This moment seemed to move the term mainstream.
Fake News is described as a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation (false information), be it via the traditional print or broadcasting news media or via Internet-based social media. To qualify as fake news, a story has to be written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.
Why would anybody spread fake news? What is the gain of spreading lies? Well obviously someone has something to gain from it. Whether it is for political purposes or an attempt to discredit a product, the simple act of lying for your own personal gain is something that has been around since the beginning of time. As long as we, as a species could talk, we probably began lying. “Fake News” is just another word for “propaganda” and has been used to sway the public’s opinion with everything from political candidates down to what cereal you should be eating for breakfast.
“I think fake news feeds into perceptions we already had and further polarizes [them],” said Craig Silverman, managing editor at Buzzfeed News, during a recent keynote at the American Copy Editors Society conference, which took place in St. Petersburg earlier this month. “It also creates confusion. It just adds to the noise out there.”
If spreading lies proved to be unsuccessful then it probably wouldn’t be used as much. But, the truth is it is very successful in steering an audience to believe practically anything. The fact that people deliberately use media to gratify a need is something that has been studied by many communicators. Some people find their news outlets as a means to satisfy their need to stay informed.
Discrediting something that goes against a person’s values and labeling it as fake, when it is not, is something that eases the discomfort of that value being challenged by the truth. I think the only thing that should matter is the truth in journalism. I feel that a person should be allowed the opportunity to make a fair decision based on the facts alone. I also think that a person who receives any facts given should have the wherewithal to question those “facts” with an open mind and beware that the truth may not be as comfortable as they wish it to be.
When Trump calls out CNN or any other outlet and labels them as fake news he only magnifies a growing problem in America. With so many outlets for the average citizen to read and disseminate news via social media and personal blogs. The spreading of fake news is now becoming an issue. Combating this new trend is proving to be a challenge that every journalist will now have to face.