President Trump’s penchant for pageantry has pushed the term “fake news” in to the mainstream media. Some take this to mean that certain media organizations are not real. Others feel this refers to stories that are created like some perverse monster with the sole intent of destroying hard earned (I just threw up a bit) reputations and/or painting people in a bad light.
So, what is fake news? Well, there are a lot of stories circulating around social media, and the rest of the internet, that are not true or versions of truth. Let me say this, truth is what happens and the rest is the story. Say someone punches me in the face, which has happened before. That person punched me, which is the truth. Why they did it and for what reasons make up the story.
The fake part comes into play when my punched-in face is reported. If the story did not happen at all then it is totally fake, but let’s say this happened. The story may be turned into something it’s not by looking through my old social media posts and finding people I know or something else to explain why I was allegedly punched. Basically, the only true part of the story is what happened and what can be reliably confirmed. The fake portions are assumptions made by reporters or whatever else helps sell the story to get ratings or clicks on websites.
People enjoy being entertained so the news is modeled to be that way. Bright colors and big graphics across the screen are coupled with bespectacled reporters and anchors wearing fancy suits and dresses. These anchors and reporters banter about the issue “du jour” in serious tones followed by some funny dog or story about the common persons triumph over adversity. The show ends with the next shows “BREAKING NEWS ALERT” that you have heard about ten times already that day, rinse and repeat.
Our President is touting his disdain over “fake news” and demanding it be stopped. President Trump made the following statements at the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC. “I am only against the fake news media or press,” he said. “I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources.” I don’t have a problem with that. I personally don’t care for people spreading lies about me either. What is far worse is his statement “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out. A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being. Let them say it to my face. Let there be no more sources.”
We the people must be careful when it comes to those filtering or condemning news as fake. The news is meant to hold those in positions of power accountable and inform the public. There are concerns about revealing sources who have given information because that could put them in harm’s way. Some people leak information because they are worried the public is being taken advantage of or used. Maybe someone in power is abusing their power illegally and for personal gain. Whatever the reason, some could be jailed or lose everything for trying to help get information out to the public.
Trusting your preferred news outlet is nice but we have a responsibility to research what we see and hear the best we can. Just because a story doesn’t have named sources doesn’t make it fake, but it means that it needs to come from a reliable source. Unfortunately we must also be aware that some news stories have an agenda for reasons that may not be clear. Remember to think about what your news is saying and know that there are reporters with motives and feelings behind the words. We cannot make blanket accusations about news being fake or true without looking at what is reported objectively. Do your best to research and decide for yourself what is or is not fake.