Fighting the Invasion of Fake News
Social media is littered with piles of fake news, and it’s up to today’s upcoming journalists to guide the media back to the truth.
By Zephanie Battle, Texas State University
Today, most media platforms will have you believe what they want you to believe, like Fox and its heavily conservative point of view.
There is no place for the truth of America’s current state to be presented when every Tom, Dick and Harry decides to disguise their opinions as facts. As a journalism major, a lot of mass communication professors are acknowledging their students as the “crème de la crème;” now more than ever, journalists are needed to shed light on what America chooses to keep quiet or shadow with false news and distracting entertainment. If there was ever a time when the truth needs to be heard, it is now, and journalism students are here to lead the way.
News is supposed to be factual, based on thorough research and/or investigation. If none of those tactics are presented, then the “news” is nothing more than a story.
Did you hear that Rihanna is in a relationship with Prince Harry? You just might have; little things like this about celebrities are put in the tabloids for our entertainment, whether it’s true or not. The main part of this headline is that it’s believable. Even if it’s not fully convincing, there may be an element to a story that will make you read it, tweet it, reblog it or repost it.
In July, thousands of people caught the words “Pope,” “endorse” and “Trump” in the same sentence and instantly felt the need to share it, most likely without reading the whole story. The irony of this article was that it was reposted so much because it was unbelievable.
This reoccurrence of fake news invading social media has grown, primarily in 2016.
As these imitation news stories continue to go viral, journalists are becoming more aware of how it’s being spread. Here are a couple of things about fake news stories that you can easily pinpoint to tell of its authenticity, according to OnTheMedia.org.
1. Dates & Times, Oh My!
Just because a headline sounds current doesn’t mean it is. Sure, there are some stories that seem relevant to an event that has happened recently, but it may not be as up-to-date as you would think. As you’re scrolling through your TL on Facebook, you read “Eminem Comes for Drake in An All-New Album.” Hell yeah, you’re pumped to read it and share with the world the epic-ness of this news. What you didn’t see was that the article was from August, nowhere near close to now and sort of irrelevant.
2. Website in Disguise
Time Magazine, CNN, Essence, USA Today and other online news sites are all popular domains that upload reliable and interesting articles on social media. They are familiar and safe, and there is no need to guess how genuine the information might be. However, there are websites that appear to have the latest stats on your favorite pop artist, when all they really have is a false tale to tell with no serious truths. Website domains that you know, like abc.com, ending with another domain title, like abc.com.co, may not be a secure source.
3. Photo Check
Most times, if the title of the article doesn’t catch you, the picture associated with it is the hook. A photo of Bruno Mars and James Cordon in a “Carpool Karaoke” session would make you click the link to watch the video in a second, regardless of the words along with it. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Pics or it didn’t happen. This sort of impulsive thinking could lead you to a deceitful site. And you know a Photoshopped photo when you see it. Stay on the lookout.
Keep in mind: If it walks like a duck and quacks like one, too, then it must be a duck. If a site looks suspicious or if the information presented is just too good to be true, wait to share the news with your all your followers. Check the article’s legitimacy and whether or not it’s something that really should be shared.
Personal Opinions vs. Truth
I have already iterated what news should be and how to go about retrieving it. In the media, it is just as important for a journalist to release relevant info as well as it is to keep it understandable.
There are some well-known faces delivering daily commentary on current events like Trevor Noah (”The Daily Show,” Comedy Central), John Oliver (“Last Week Tonight,” HBO) and Seth Meyers (“Late Night with Seth Meyers,” NBC). While these guys are taking over reporting in a humorous way, there are others who take the initiative to explain pressing topics with a personal point of view.
Tomi Lahren expresses her conservative perspective along with current political issues, causing her to be negatively received by her far-left watchers. Though her show, “Final Thoughts with Tomi,” is primarily on Facebook, it has not stopped Lahren from branching out onto television and other platforms.
While Lahren has every right to communicate her position on the right, it is not ideal to convey them while relying information to the masses. Noah, Oliver and Meyers do the same, but it’s tolerable because of their use of comedy. In any case, if you are watching anything that has pertinent reports relating to your daily life or the world around you, it should not have anyone else’s thoughts tacked onto it. This only gives way to greater opposition toward certain subjects like politics and activism and keeps you divided from seeing what the news is really saying.
A Journalistic Standpoint
Journalism is important in the daily lifestyle of America. Without the work of a dedicated and reliable source of a journalist, the world would have to rely on multiple smartphone uploads to every social media outlet, with inaccurate captions to tell the story. Journalism students have an opportunity to make a change in the way news is spread and received, unbiased and backed with facts and research. There are outlets that are created to let you express your own perspective on current issues; make a blog if you must. What’s important in this day and age is to keep the masses informed on the truth of what might be hidden, falsified or intolerant.
There is a job to do, and you, as an aspiring journalist getting ready to make a difference in the world, must be ready for it.