Apologies for the rant, but as a person who studied journalism at the prestigious Ernie Pyle School of Journalism at Indiana University, I am disturbed by the rash of fake news posted online and the number of people who believe the stories.
That being said, I’m surprised it has taken this long for people to start publishing such outrageous stories in bulk to influence people because of the fake publisher’s bias.
Anybody who has a computer can publish via blogs, websites, podcasts, social media sites, amongst other avenues without any oversight to make sure they are reporting facts.
These people are not journalists, yet they are lumped into that category by an unknowing public who has trouble deciphering what is true.
Not too long ago, a person needed to work at a newspaper, magazine, radio station, or television to publish content. Reporters made sure they stuck to the facts partly out of fear of getting fired but mostly out of duty as a professional to tell the truth to the readers/viewers so they can form their own opinion.
A second set of eyes in the form of an editor or producer checked the story a second time to make sure the stories were factual and reported with the best interest of the public in mind.
Investigative journalism is still vital to our country. It holds politicians and other public figures accountable by informing, via facts and not opinions, the public of their actions. Viewers can then decide for themselves if they are going to continue to support a public person or issue based on the facts.
For instance, let’s say an athlete is taking money to throw games. Without journalists investigating the claims, how would the public know if they are paying to attend a sporting event where the outcome is already decided?
Now imagine a person who loves the player with a podcast influences fans into thinking the information is part of a conspiracy perpetrated by other teams to hurt this player’s reputation without any regards to facts or by inventing fake facts.
Would the average person be able to tell who is telling the truth?
Let’s say a group of politicians are receiving kickbacks to approve a project that affects citizens and the environment. Without journalists, how would the public know their apartment complex is being torn down and a vital species in the food chain is now going to be extinct?
Meanwhile, what happens if a blogger publishes fake facts that influences the public to allow this project to go forward because the blogger has a bias towards the political party of those politicians?
Could the average person decipher which person is telling the truth?
It is vital for the public to look at the source of information in stories that are going viral and call out fake journalists for trying to influence an outcome based on their bias.
Before posting an article or video from the internet, think about the source. Look at the facts to see if they are substantiated in a reputable manner.
Please let friends and family know the difference between a talking head like Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow and a quality news source like NPR, the BBC, or the New York Times.
If you care about good investigative journalism, please support a reputable outlet that is not influenced by bias.