Metropolis, IL


The Way I See It: Fake news. Really?

Thursday, March 02, 2017 - Updated: 11:54 AM
Areia Hathcock
These last few months national politics have been a roller coaster ride. President Barack Obama is out. President Donald Trump is in. The beginning of the new administration and its relationship with the media has me perplexed.
At the start of Trump’s campaign for the presidency when he was considered the GOP wild card candidate, he loved the media attention he received. Fast forward to the end of his campaign and suddenly all news about him is fake news in his opinion. Really? Is it really fake news? Or is it just news that Trump doesn’t agree with  and using the term fake news is an outage for him.
The circulation of fake news went viral in 2016 thanks to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If a news story is published and shared online with an attention grabbing headline you can bet it will be read and the link re-shared again — regardless of whether or not the story is true or not.
What started as a term that made true journalists cringe when they heard it, has now become a meaningless saying after being tossed around so much. True fake news is incorrect and non-factual stories. I recently read an interesting article about the origin of fake news published by the British newspaper The Telegraph. It was interesting to read how this phenomenon has grown under Trump. The article cited five types of fake news published by the University of Western Ontario.
“Stories classified as fake news can generally be put into five categories, as experts try to develop a way of warning readers what they may be encountering.
1. Intentionally deceptive
These are news stories created entirely to deceive readers. The 2016 U.S. election was rife with examples claiming that “X” celebrity has endorsed Donald Trump, when that was not the case.
2. Jokes taken at face value
Humor sites such as the Onion or Daily Mash present fake news stories in order to satirize the media. Issues can arise when readers see the story out of context and share it with others.
3. Large-scale hoaxes
Deceptions that are then reported in good faith by reputable news sources. A recent example would be the story that the founder of Corona beer made everyone in his home village a millionaire in his will.
4. Slanted reporting of real facts
Selectively-chosen but truthful elements of a story put together to serve an agenda. One of the most prevalent examples of this is the PR-driven science or nutrition story, such as “x thing you thought was unhealthy is actually good for you.”
5. Stories where the “truth” is contentious
On issues where ideologies or opinions clash — for example, territorial conflicts — there is sometimes no established baseline for truth. Reporters may be unconsciously partisan, or perceived as such.
On Feb. 17 in one of the President’s infamous tweets he declared fake news as not his enemy but the enemy of the American people. The tweet was directed to the big three news organizations — NBC, ABC and CBS — as well as CNN and the New York Times. Fast forward a week later and Trump declares and “clarifies” that it is not ALL media that is the enemy, just the fake news media, yet he clearly included most major news outlets in his tweet. To no surprise Fox News was not listed.
Trump’s comments and accusations seem to be an attempt to persuade the general public not to trust media journalists. Main stream media, which he refers to, and local newspapers such as the one you are reading right now, are two totally different beasts when it comes to journalism. The Planet does not report on Trump’s administration, and the Washington Post does not report on the Metropolis City Council meeting.
I take the president’s accusations of my chosen career field seriously, and I guess you could somewhat say personally rather I work with mainstream media or your local community newspaper. The infatuation with his administration’s media coverage that Trump relays to the public makes journalists sound like we are working in a cult. That is simply not true. We are down-to-earth people like you. We work for our community to hold people and governments accountable for their actions which is obviously a major issue with Trump when he receives negative attention.
Mr. President, is there anyway you can please stop tweeting and go about the business of running our country? The position of president of the greatest country in the world comes with the downfall of constantly being criticized and in the spotlight — ironically the same is true for the news industry. We deal with it daily, now it’s your turn.

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