Fake news is a term that is tossed around a lot in this culture. A few weeks ago I spent 30 minutes explaining to a client with a much higher pay grade than me the difference between a New York Times editorial and a story. Social media should be easy but I have to explain to clients why I won’t use content that appears to be copied or not verified. And since anyone can buy a domain name these days and call themselves a news organization, I have to advise my clients to also scrutinize the media source. Yeah, you don’t have to have any kind of license or experience to call yourself media. I stick to accredited sources when curating content. I really don’t use the word “fake” but it is implied. I thought my strong stances would hurt my reputation but I have found the opposite is true.
I think media is in this place for four key reasons (remember, this is my opinion):
- A news organization should never label itself conservative or liberal. I was taught news is objective. I had to interview plenty of people whose views who made me sick while I was a reporter but it was important to tell all sides of the story. I was taught to keep my personal feelings out of it. But now that we have created Fox News and MSNBC, how do we go back? And does anyone want a truly objective media anymore?
- The media has not done a good enough job of protecting its turf. I cringe when I see legitimate news sources linking to wannabe sites. I understand it though because newsrooms have been cut dramatically and it’s hard to cover the news without working 18 hours a day. I don’t know the answer but we shouldn’t have gotten to this place. The wannabe sites that are in almost every city in the country now have done more damage to news credibility than some of the sites that spread celebrity death hoaxes and other clickbait content. Come on! How many times can we kill Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman?
- The public cannot distinguish fake and real news sites and it seems they don’t care at times. The general public often does not understand that some “news sources” have no professional training, no experience and in some cases, no ethics.
- The public is sometimes confused between editorial and news. It’s easy to mock them for not knowing but the media need to do a better job of explaining it sometimes.
Finally, how do we educate a public that sometimes doesn’t care about the truth and quality journalism? For me, I just do it one person at a time.