April Blog_4.13.17

Fake News Is Real. Or Is It?

There comes a point in many people’s careers when some of their core opinions, views and perceptions are shaken by events or change. Take, for example, the issue of fake news. Is it really that new to discuss the legitimacy of a news story or whether or not the reporter got the facts right?

In the past, sure, there were questionable assertions by the media on just about any issue, from misidentifying suspects to wholesale fraud by overambitious reporters. Now we have the total meltdown of news outlets over this Russia/Trump connection. Lots of speculation but little evidence.

Many of the reported links are sure to be red herrings (not to be confused with the Russian snack). While I have an affinity for caviar, I hope no one points a finger at me suggesting I’m tied at the hip to the Russians.

Media seem unconcerned that some of this reporting may turn out to be fake news. Reporters always harken back to the idea that in America, a free press is at the heart of a democracy so must be free of censorship and oppression. Without a free media, a lot of government and corporate actions can be masked or hidden totally.

Many journalists believe they achieve impartiality if they report the facts from both sides of the fence. But, let’s be real: Some reporters take a personal bent on an issue or even build a crusade over what they believe to be injustice or simply unfair.

No one, I contend, is without some sprinkling of personal bias when covering or writing a story. “Just the facts, ma’am” is a noble attempt at neutralizing bias but, then again, which facts are you using? Sure, the ones you believe to be correct. But, that’s somewhat in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?

Some fake news is deliberate. Just look at what the U.S. government did during WWII. To further confuse and mislead opposition forces, the government purposely provided false information to the public to convince the Germans of attack locations. All done in the name of national security and world peace. Right? Wrong?

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