OPINION: Just because the news isn’t desired, doesn’t mean it’s fake

This week’s editorial looks at political bias and disagreeing with the news presented

Just because you don’t like the news doesn’t make it fake.

Let’s talk about fake news and what it really means. The dictionary definition of fake is that of something that is not genuine, a forgery or a sham. Fake news then is something that is a lie that has no truth to it.

Indeed, there’s quite a lot of fake news out there, some extremely convincing, others not so much. The reality of it is that most fake news creators do not really care about what they’re creating but how much money they make.

What’s more interesting, fake news gurus will argue both sides of a divided political argument. From a financial standpoint that makes total sense. What that means is, those of us who fall for the ploy are being made fools of by the fake news people. Fools, all because we saw it on social media.

It’s a pity we don’t have the means to research a story to prove it’s fake. Clearly, social media is the only real news available to the discerning public. News outlets, Google searches, Google News and others, these all have no place in the world of research.

What’s a real struggle is that with newsrooms becoming smaller, it’s more difficult to catch all the lies. Couple that with political bias, even organizations dedicated to the truth, such as Snopes.com, are being dismissed as unreliable and fake.

Indeed, on our Quesnel Cariboo Observer social media pages we have readers arguing that reliable news stories are fake because it paints a group they favour in a bad light. U.S. President Donald Trump doesn’t like a reporter’s questions so he calls them fake news. Well, I guess that’s one way to dismiss something you don’t like.

Fake news guys use inflammatory language to stir up people’s anger and it’s for good reason; when people click on their stories and sites, it garners ad revenue. If I was a fake news creator, I would do the same thing. Heck, I’d write two stories, one on the left side of the story and one on the right. I’d be sure to use language that gets people angry and riled up, making them want to click the link. Ka-ching!

It’s very easy to get people angry. All one has to do is write a headline that gets them clicking and putting money in my bank account.

There are of course other ways of getting the news.

Social media truly is one of those methods and that includes YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and more. The trick with all of those is deciphering the fake from the real. There are some users who would rather create chaos than find a solution to a problem and when there is an immediate issue or breaking incident, some would love to confuse the discussion.

While social media has in one sense democratized the media landscape (which isn’t a bad thing), it’s also created more avenues of creating confusion. This immediacy of information has created a massive hole in the world of news verification, which can take a day or two. That’s decades in the social media world.

News organizations, used to in-depth research, having several editors and reporters on a story, are now faced with using an editor and reporter (sometimes one person) while also trying to remain current.

I’m reminded of the children’s story, Henny-Penny: The Sky is Falling! It’s a story many parents read to their kids about a hen getting hit in the head by an acorn but thinks the sky is falling.

We’re no different than Henny-Penny as we fall for the fake news, and the fake news writers are no different than Foxy-woxy, the opportunist who takes advantage of the chaos. Let’s be smarter than the hen and Foxy-woxy folks, and use real critical thinking before we fall for the fake news trick.

— Black Press Media

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