The Difference Between Fake and Real News

Tyler Crews

“Fake News” is a term that we have seen frequently throughout this past year — so much so that we as citizens can feel lost when it comes to which news sources we should trust so we can learn about current affairs. It is no secret that social media platforms and search engines have subverted the way that we receive information; they often guide users towards sources that have a skewed bias toward one ideology or another. Furthermore, in this past year, some major news sources have produced content that appears to advance biased agendas rather than report objectively. However, it is imperative that we identify the differences between media and journalism and understand the value of authentic journalism, rather than allowing ourselves to lose trust in news sources all together.

On Jan. 17, President Donald Trump began his own awards program, the 2017 Fake News Awards. Trump released a list online — a disappointing deliverance given all of the hype and attention surrounding the event — of 11 instances in which various news outlets and reporters published incorrect statements. Though these reporters and news companies had already corrected their errors prior to the event, Trump still highlighted these instances of false reporting to prove a point: mainstream media and journalists cannot be trusted. However, this claim is dangerous because media and journalism are not one and the same. Where media has a stake in outcome by providing information in order to shape an audience and their views, journalism serves to inform the public by granting them access to the truth so that they can make informed decisions.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer global report found that this year 71 to 74 percent of U.S. citizens are concerned about fake news being used as a weapon. As a result, many who seek information are unsure about what sources to trust, and 63 percent feel they do not know how to distinguish between accurate reporting and rumors. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen recently tweeted an excerpt of a lecture he delivered 20 years ago that provides clear guideline for understanding which news stories to trust.

To put Rosen’s words in context, I will apply this differentiation to Trump’s awards. Trump cited an instance where Dave Weigel, a reporter from the Washington Post, tweeted an image of an empty arena and claimed that only a few supporters showed up to a Trump rally. In reality, the rally was packed. The photo had been taken before the crowd had arrived. This would be considered media, seeing that it was reported on social media to gain a reaction from his audience without being fact checked. However, the Washington Post’s recent piece that investigating the presence of members of Russia’s elite with political ties at Trump’s inauguration cannot be considered media nor “fake news.” This is because while Trump disregarded all articles written surrounding Russian collusion as fake news, the article states its findings objectively and accurately, only providing the accounts of others. The article does not specify that this means that Trump colluded, and it only provided the public with information that they would otherwise not have access to.

In an age where media is the dominant source of communication, it is easy to get lost in false claims and inaccuracies. However, it is imperative that we look to journalism as a source of information because without access to information, we cannot have a stake in the outcome of our nation.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Tyler Crews at [email protected]

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1 COMMENT

  1. Where does one put news that news organizations refuse to print or state on air because they do not fit their political leaning? Is that fake news?

    During the fall of 2016, a Democratic pollster stated that he had never seen the press put such a cocoon around someone as they were doing with Hillary Clinton and the email scandal. He stated that they were doing everything to protect her and not reporting facts that would taint her candidacy.

    The main street news organizations are not covering or questioning why the Congressional Dems are doing everything to block the release of a report which shows that the Obama Admin was abusing the FISA system and wiretapping everyone from the Trump Transition team (3 FISA warrants) to many conservative groups that opposed Obama.

    While constantly attacking Trump for his attacks on CNN and fake news, etc., these news orgs basically never reported the fact that Obama attacked Fox News from the 2008 campaign (turning white voters against him he said) thru last week’s Letterman interview or that Obama had Fox News investigated for their opposing views or that AG Eric Holder requested a Warrant (his signature was on the copy since made public) to obtain the phone records of Fox’s White House correspondent, James Rosen. That’s what a dictator does.

    A perfect example of failure to report based on political bias was the Roy Moore case. Alabama Republican Roy Moore is a sleaze who absolutely deserved the scrutiny. However, at the same time, California Senate President Pro Tem De Leon, running to unseat Dianne Feinstein in the Democratic primary has been hit by a number of similar allegations as Moore as have a number of Dems in the California State Senate, some of who were forced to resign. The Democratic Party chair was forced to resign for sexual harassment allegations. There was not one sentence mentioning this on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or MSNBC. That’s the problem and that’s where I see fake news in abundance.

    All I say is be fair and honest to both political sides. Many say that the 24 hour news cycle has led us to this point. Fox News represents the Right, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, the Left. The competition to be first to report and knowing where your networks bias lays, has led to just throwing it out there without verifying facts. If it’s wrong and does damage who cares, the next day there’ll be another unverified story to replace yours.

    Investigative journalism has replaced that which we have seen in movies like Spotlight, The Post and All the President’s Men with dog and pony shows.

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