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El Diablo

Fake News: the unbelievable truth

Bekah Moenning and Tommy Roger

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Fake news has been an ongoing issue among the media, but recently took a turn when President Donald Trump took office. Fake news is news that circulates through the media using twisted facts and false information, and whether it be for comedic propaganda or to make someone look bad, it is not necessary.

Trump has recently bashed many major broadcast networks like the New York Times, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News and CNN News, referring to them as fake news media and went as far as to name them the enemy of the American people.

There is a difference between criticism, which is what Trump claimed his tweet to be, and insulting successful news sources. Some have been around far longer than our dear president. Trump’s dislike of the media stems from things he reads that hurt his reputation and the leaks that make their way into news sources around the country, so he is impacting journalists everywhere who are only doing their job.

Yes, fake news causes unnecessary conflict, but it does not give anybody an excuse to accuse all news to be false and inaccurate. News sources can often make mistakes, but these errors are fixed efficiently and by no means should they be discredited for human errors. Trump’s attack on fake news resulted in placing him in a detrimental position among trustworthy media and ultimately gave himself a bad name within the world of journalists.

However, even though President Trump likes to dig himself deep into conflict, he did shine a light on the issue that is fake news. It is everywhere, and the people who find it of course are sadly going to trust it. America is a bit gullible — we like to believe in the impossible.

The real problem isn’t even fake news itself, it’s the fact that the truth is being paid no attention to. The purpose of news is to stay connected everywhere: citywide, statewide, nationwide and worldwide. It allows people to be aware of what is going on, and when fake news gets a hold of the people’s attention, things in the media get out of hand and it is essentially unfair because the real news is not given a chance.

Being a reporter for a high school newspaper has actually opened my eyes to a lot of things involving news, and I have learned that all I want to read is the truth. Although the headlines for fake stories may be catchy or funny, in the long run it ruins the truth and causes conflict that should not be added to more important issues in this world. According to Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, the best jokes are based on truth.

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The term and issue of “fake news” has been gaining traction and picking up speed since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Fake news refers to the intentional publication of false information with the intention of disguising the information as authentic. Whether entirely fake or only partially, fake news can have very serious real world consequences.

An article claiming Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a DC pizzeria blew up in late 2016. Dubbed “pizzagate,” this scandal originated as a prank from users of the site reddit.com. Though a prank, the consequences of this ordeal are tremendous. Not only did this incident sway the polls in Trump’s favor, this also resulted in a gunman going to “self-investigate” the pizzagate scandal, and firing his assault rifle in the restaurant.

Surprisingly enough, social media was not one of the major sources of news in the months leading up to the election with only “14 percent of Americans calling social media their ‘most important’ source of election news,” according to a research paper published by Stanford University. The sharing of fake news was not the biggest problem faced in the election — the biggest problem around fake news was the disproportionate sharing of fake news stories.

Stanford’s paper also stated: “Of the known false news stories that appeared in the three months before the election, those favoring Trump were shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook, while those favoring Clinton were shared eight million times.”

Crying “fake news” is much like the boy who cried wolf. Trump, who is eager to cry fake news (He tweeted the term 15 times in February, 10 of the times being in all caps), uses the term in order to discredit information about himself. Dismissing anything negative written about him as fake news, Trump is able to preserve what minute positive image he has left.

Calling every article fake news could lead to widespread dismissal of an article as fake, when it is, in fact, true. Trump is quick to call many of the most credible sources, including CNN, fake. Going as far as referring to the media as the “enemy of the American people,”  Trump is able to convince his supporters that CNN is out to get him.

Although the problem is growing fast, there is a simple solution. Background checking information or even Googling the author can almost always give away whether an article is genuine or not. Before deciding something is fake, check your biases, and try to look at the article from a neutral standpoint. Read past the headline before sharing and you could a major key in preventing another pizzagate.

 

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