Fox News or Faux News? Cable News Network or Criminal News Network? Everyone in the media business has an agenda. They have a core base or audience that they want their message to appeal to and their reporting reflects that. During the 2012 election 46% of Fox News’s coverage of the Democratic candidate was negative, while 71% of MSNBC’s coverage of the Republican candidate was negative (Holcomb, 2017). I don’t think the issue is that these organization chose to inform their target audience with spin towards a political view, because that’s how they make money and some audience members tune in because of it. I think the issue is when these organizations chose to ignore the facts, misrepresent the facts, or just flat out lie about the facts to make the “alternative facts” fit their agenda.
“Fake News” seems to be the new buzz word the current administration uses for any news organization that reports any negative view of their actions. By their definition almost every major news organization could be defined as fake news, because bad press is about all this administration gets. To be fair sometimes these news organizations get it wrong. CNN recently had to retract a story they published and a couple of journalist lost their jobs, but this is the exception not the norm. However, I think a line should be drawn to delineate self-inflicted bad press and fake news. Who decides what’s fake news and more importantly why if it’s fake news do we even allow it to be called news? Some online social media sites are taking steps to stem the spread of fake news. Facebook now allows you to flag news that you suspect are being fake. Sites like FactCheck.org have made verifying news and viral stories a thing (Kiely, 2017). I think these are great starts to combat fake news.
Information is a powerful tool. A free and open press is a liberty that shouldn’t be taken lightly. With that said, I also feel that organizations should accountable for their reporting. You can’t call yourself a news organization if much of your content is political commentary from pundits. Every news organization should be reviewed and if they don’t meet a certain threshold for reporting accurate information, they shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves a news organization. There is a place for commentary, but I don’t think it should be under the guise of factual news. Until that happens I think we as responsible citizens need to be aware of where we are getting our information. Being reasonable, open minded and able to look at multiple sources objectively will help us to be well informed and easily able to recognize fake news.
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