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Help us fight fake news

March 31, 2017

 

It’s on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and in almost every single comment section on a news article: the accusations of “fake news!” The words are thrown from pundits and even the president, who in tweets accused the “fake news” of misreporting his meeting with Angela Merkel, the current chancellor of Germany, last week.

 

Fake news is a serious issue for both journalists and the public because false stories have a tendency to spread like wildfire, as does the urge to call reporting we disagree with “fake news.” That leads to some serious confusion on what is or isn’t fake news and subsequently what is or isn’t fact.

 

Fake news is defined by Collins English Dictionary as “false and sometimes sensationalist information presented as fact and published and spread on the internet.”

 

Fake news isn’t a matter of if you like the reporting or if it has biases. Fake news stories are made up, meant to lure readers in with a credible looking article and page in hope they’ll share it, whether to gain ad revenue or push a political agenda or even just for kicks. There are conservative and liberal fake news articles, from Pizzagate to “Key Witness in Trump Corruption Probe ‘Mysteriously Falls’ From Building,” but one thing all fake news has in common is a real look and a fabricated story.

 

Although major outlets may seem like “fake news,” there is truth amongst their spin, which means it isn’t categorized as “fake news.” Fox News or CNN may lean a different direction than you, but to call them “fake news” is wrong, as most of the time they are reporting accurately.

 

While you may disagree with the angles reporters or organizations take, to claim something is “fake news” for those reasons is a way of being “fake news” yourself. Call things what they are. This doesn’t excuse unethical actions from reporters, but we should at least label these issues correctly so they can be handled correctly.

 

The Tech Talk believes it is our job as journalists to report as objectively and fairly as possible, getting as close to the truth as we can with the sources we have. But journalists are human. We make errors in reporting and sometimes biases do slip through. When that happens, it is up to the readers to help call attention to these errors.

 

The public is our ultimate editor so the critiques of media should be more substantial than just labeling everything “fake news.”This makes sure fake news gets rightfully called out and biases get put in check.

 

Fact-check, read articles thoroughly and read from multiple sources, and if you find misleading or outright false statements, you can get in contact with the paper or author and voice your complaints.

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