Thursday's HOT MIC

Thursday's HOT MIC

See my comments about "fake news" in this Fox News article:

I sent the reporter, Brooke Crothers, some additional comments that didn't make it into the article. Here's the non-Cliffs Notes version:

It's true that "fake news" is easier and less costly to produce than factual news reporting. A separate, parallel, issue is the demand for instant reactions to newsworthy events. Original reporting is labor intensive and the 24-hour news cycle creates a sense of urgency that values speed over accuracy. As a result, sometimes even legitimate news sources get stories wrong in the rush to be first. I wouldn't call that fake news, per se, because in most cases it's not intentional, but it has the same effect as fake news because the original story goes around the world before a correction can be issued and most people never see the correction.

There was an excellent article in the Atlantic a few years ago about Vladimir Putin's war on truth. It explained how Putin uses the state-run media to create a false version of reality by blurring the lines between reality TV, entertainment, and real news. The propaganda campaign has been so successful that Russians can't tell the difference anymore between what's true and what's not. Even worse, many don't really care if they're being lied to as long as they're being entertained. At the time it was written (2014) a lot of people scoffed at the idea that something like that could happen here. But as we've seen, Russia has been able to infiltrate the platform where most Americans get their news — Facebook. Beyond the sheer traffic numbers, the Russians understand, perhaps better than Americans do, that Facebook is a space that combines entertainment with news, which creates a fertile ground for fake news and the  "counterfeit reality" the study warned about.

That said, I don't think the situation is quite as dire as the study predicts. While fake news will continue to be a problem, I think perhaps we're reaching a tipping point where people are becoming more skeptical and more discerning with their media choices. Those of us who produce content for legitimate news outlets have a vital role to play in raising awareness about the problem and teaching our readers how to navigate their news feeds so they can weed out bogus stories and media outlets. As people begin to understand the scope of the problem they'll organically delegitimize the purveyors of fake news and rely more on trusted sources like Fox and PJ Media. And, of course, we in the media need to lead the way in making sure we report things accurately at all times so we don't contribute to the problem.

That Atlantic article I linked is well worth your time.