Opinion
Fake news threatens the future of the media
By
Editorial Staff
Friday, January 27, 2017

During the final month of the recent election cycle, news-related drama was frequently seen across publications.

This is not atypical for an American election, especially during a presidential cycle without an incumbent candidate and with the two candidates that voters had to choose from.

However, for the first time, the mass media did not have total control over coverage of the election. Fake news stole some attention from mainstream media sources, which ultimately caused the spread of untruthful news.

A particularly memorable story regarded Hillary Clinton supposedly running an underground sex slave ring out of a metropolitian D.C. pizza shop. This outwardly false news grabbed the attention of a North Carolinian man who then took it upon himself to bring his gun to the pizza shop and open fire on customers.

Although there were no casualties in this specific incident, it was not isolated in its effect on the election. As news moves more online, fake news sites grow in popularity as they lure consumers with gripping headlines and advertisements on popular social media platforms, such as Facebook.

The future of media itself must be called into question, as the credibility of the news weakens with fake news. If consumers are attracted to headlines or stories with false or biased news, the ability for true news sources to continue their reporting becomes increasingly more difficult. Further, the ability for consumers to differentiate between real and fake news is more difficult as fake news becomes equally as accessible as real news through the internet.

Websites such as “CivicTribune,” “Enduring Vision” and “RealNewsRightNow” seem legitimate by name and website layout. Similarly, fantastical articles such as the one regarding Hillary Clinton’s underground sex ring, President Donald Trump immediately banning all Muslims or groups of men attacking innocent women because of their clothing seem reasonable enough to be real news.

The danger with fake news websites are not the stories themselves. The danger is that these websites prey on vulnerable readers who are unable to differentiate betewen fake and real news.

Moreover, whether or not the reported turnout numbers at President Trump’s inauguration were true, the fact that Kellyanne Conway noted on “Meet the Press” that the Trump administration differed from mainstream media and instead followed their own set of “alternative facts” demonstrates the current movement away from trustworthy facts.

In this time of fake news and alternative facts, the necessity to stay truthful and independant as a news source is more important than ever. If the media is unable to lose its primary function as a watchdog, there is essentially no external check to the government; a reality without confidence in facts is one to fear.

  • Wade Hampton

    The only way to combat fake news is through media literacy but it is unlikely to receive support from either US party. Although media literacy would combat clickbate news, it would also educate American’s not to trust unnamed sources in the State Department and CIA (unnamed sources are unaccountable if later found to be lying or propagandizing). It would also lead to a public desire to debate the merits of endless war, mass incarceration, and economic policies that destroy the earnings potential of the middle and working class while prolonging poverty. Deferent, gutless corporate media is vital to the political establishment maintaining the bi-partisan detente on these issues.

    The international neo-liberal order is currently under threat throughout the Western World on the right by Trump, Brexit and Le Pen (France) – as well as on the left by Sanders, Five Stars (Italy), Podemos (Spain), and Syriza (Greece). The corporate media must start portraying these movements as genuinely democratic and debating them if it is to maintain credibility. Corporate media will likely be seduced into remaining insular to its professional class and instead dedicate itself to blindly propagandizing against these movements because of a thoughtless allegiance to “internationalism” instead of debating their merits. If it does this it has no greater purpose that profit and should merely strive to achieve as many clicks as possible, just as fake news does.