What Is “fake news?”

By Kendall Polidori | 11/26/18 9:31am


In the last two years we have seen numerous changes in the work of journalism and news reporting. There has been a ride in the coverage on politics, headline stories revolving around it in some way or form each day. With this change in news coverage, we have also been introduced to a new phrase, “fake news”, that is heavily used and discussed by many politicians, journalists and viewers today. 

The term “fake news” has become so familiar to our society that people often do not even know what it truly is or why it came up. In the age of social media, and the advancements we see daily, the idea of fake news has snowballed greatly. Textbook definition of “fake news” states that it is a type of “yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.” 

Now, we have definitely seen real cases of “fake news” through the use of social media, as it is made extremely easy for anyone to publish something or put something online for everyone to see and it is not always reliable. With social media there is no clear line as to who is a reliable source and who is not except for some sites such as Twitter that verifies some professional faces.

In 2016 we saw a random sprout of this term yet again when the presidential election rolled around. We saw extreme changes in media coverage, as Americans took a great attention shift toward the political movement. During this presidential election, Facebook received more engagement than any other election and was said to host “fake news websites.” 

The term thought didn’t see much light until Donald Trump, after his election into office, popularized it when describing negative press coverage of himself. And without much explanation to his use of the term, people did not quite understand that this news that he was talking about was not actually “fake”, but just was not of his liking. 

There are definitely certain circumstances in which the news may fabricate the details within an event, which is unethical and has been acted upon if it was done. Donald Trump’s claims of these news stations covering stories that were “fake” were never proven to be true and it was also a confusing accusation since he called out only specific news stations for this and showed support to others that seemed to show support towards his campaign, such as Sinclair Broadcast Group. 

It is a sticky situation as nothing has been proven within these new “fake news” claims, but that also means it is not something that we should cancel out. As a society right now, the United States does not have a clear and concise definition of the term and it has lost its true meaning in the ride of a political news era. 

There has been a sense of hysteria and moral panic within American citizens, worrying that if everything they were consuming was ultimately fabricated or “fake.” There has been damage done to the trust between the public and the news which is something that must be built up again now. 

Today, the best thing to do to truly define what “fake news” is, is to always and continuously review your source. It is always better to know where something is coming from and have trust that it is reliable. 

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