It seems as though the topic of fake news is being brought up more and more in recent months, due to the new administration’s fascination with it. However, the movement of fake news – I call it movement because it takes someone with certain views to produce a fictional news piece, with a certain agenda behind it – has been around much longer than the last year. First and foremost, I want to make sure we all know the distinction between fake news and news satire. Fake news consists of published items that are put forth in a serious tone and claim to be factual, when in reality they are entirely fictional misinformation. News satire, on the other hand, is created to entertain readers or viewers; it uses humor and irony to discuss real life events and therefore taken with a grain of salt.
The most disturbing element of fake news is that the items are created with the sole purpose of misleading readers and profiting off the mass hysteria (in our case an article going viral by way of social media) that the sensational fake news item produces. What makes an item fake is the lack of evidentiary support, whether it be eye witness accounts, a paper trail, or any other form of proof that would support the articles claim. Sadly, if a website looks credible and their articles are shared via social media, it takes just a handful of people to create the snowball effect of an article gone viral, whether it be real or fake; it’s getting harder and harder to tell.
Looking back at the concept of fake news, I cannot help but think that it all began both in the political sphere, as well as the entertainment one. Tabloid magazines like the National Inquirer, and The Globe, paved the way for the introduction of fake news into our psyche by sneaking into the mainstream media – tabloids are known to be fake, but we still like to read them, planting the seed of questionable journalism in our minds. In the political sphere, Russia has been accused of using fake news to influence the people during an election. When fake news is produced by your own government, it’s not only hard to tell it’s a lie, but you would never question your own leader, would you?
All of this brings us to today. The new president and his administration have put fake news at the forefront of our minds with the constant accusation that whichever publication that doesn’t ask the right question or calls them out on their own fictional comments, is fake news. The problem with questioning what we all once thought to be credible news sources, such as CNN, is the danger of the entire collapse of American Journalism credibility. News sources like The New York Times, Washington Post, The Times, and The Wall Street Journal, have yet to be put under the microscope by the new administration, but television news stations such as Fox, MSNBC, BNC, and CBS are right in the middle of the firing zone with CNN being brought into question by the new US government.
Zooming into a more micro view of the fake news situation, we see that those who agree with the new administration are also reporting the positive effects that calling out the fake news is having on US media. The echo chamber of news stations reporting what is happening while those who are in charge of what is happening are going by what the news stations are reporting – a vicious cycle of isolation from the rest of the nation’s media and opinions. Just because you don’t agree with it, doesn’t make it fake. Facts, which by definition are indisputable elements in a circumstance, cannot be questioned by their very nature of being indisputable.