Fake News Versus Real News

By Christina Wilson

President Donald Trump calls most news fake news. During his campaign trail and first two years in presidency he’s called reports from outlets like CNN and MSNBC fake. He claims they are used for political gain. In the past year a recent study shows more distrust of the accuracy in the news and consumers are left questioning what is real.

Trump famously uses his Twitter account to show his dislike of news reports. Trump wrote, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” More recently he wrote, “So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!”

Trump showed his support for one network in particular in a recent Tweet. “We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY.”

It is clear that Trump is adverse to many news outlets that report negatively about him. He makes his sentiments known.

In an article titled “Don’t Expect Fake News to Disappear in 2018” Jonathan Kaufman, school director of Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design, was quoted saying, “I think the term is going to be with us for a long time. Trump and other conservatives use it to attack anything they don’t like and it is something reporters will have to live with.”

According to an April 2, 2018 study done by Monmouth University Polling Institute, a private university in New Jersey, more than three-in-four Americans believe that traditional major TV and newspaper media outlets report fake news including 31 percent who believe this happens regularly and 46 percent who say it happens occasionally. That means that the majority of people question the validity of news reports on a daily basis.

“These finding are troubling no matter how you define fake news,” according to Patrick Murray, director of the Institute according to the study noted above. “Confidence in an independent Fourth Estate is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Ours appears to be headed for the intensive-care unit.”

Michele Fogg, journalism professor at College of Southern Nevada, said, “I think President Trump’s disdain for the media and calling news stories he doesn’t agree with ‘fake news’ has actually had some benefit to journalism. We as a nation are talking about news and credibility. We’re asking questions about sourcing and facts. I think the stakes are higher now and media organizations and journalists have to be especially cautious about what gets published.”

Fogg noted a few obvious ways to pinpoint fake news. She said, “If there are typos or unnamed or no sources in the article, you can bet you’re reading a story that is not from a legitimate news organization. Fact-checking, citing sources and proofreading are hallmarks of legitimate journalism. If the headline is inflammatory, dramatic or downright outlandish, then you have to be suspicious.”

Questioning the validity of journalists or news stories is not a new concept.

Dave Hall, FOX5 News This Morning anchor, said, “Questioning journalism has been around as long as journalism itself has been around. The difference now is the intensity and political weaponizing of it. Thirty years ago we didn’t have 1,000 TV channels, the internet, blogs and social media. Your local newspaper or local TV news channel was your main source of information. People had an inherent trust back then. In today’s media climate, people question everything, which in itself isn’t a bad thing but the danger we’re seeing now is the blatant disregard for the obvious truths.”

CSN student journalist Taylor Cayro said it’s important that what is being reported can be reported by other sources. “If anything, journalism is more like a science in that the findings that they report should be something that can be proven by somebody else.”

As a journalist Cayro advocates verifying facts by using multiple credible sources in reporting. As a reader he said, “Don’t believe everything you see or read. Verify.”

Websites such as Snopes.com and FactCheck.org are great ways to help readers at home examine the news and separate what is real from fiction.


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