Why is there so much FAKE NEWS and who is responsible for it?! Let me give you what I believe to be the answer to this question, and it doesn’t include simply placing blame on the media. Let’s look at some pertinent facts to consider!
First of all, if the public didn’t want fake news, there wouldn’t be any. That’s plain and simple. If The People wanted truth in journalism, they would spend the same amount of time researching a subject of their interest that they expect the reporters to spend before reporting the issue in the news. People wouldn’t buy magazines like The National Enquirer, spend countless hours watching so-called reality TV (believing it to be true) or busy their selves with making FB comments on subjects that they know absolutely nothing more than a few headlines of information about. If citizens could rid themselves of the environmentally produced ADD in their brains and actually devote more than a minute or mere seconds to any headline or news worthy issue, there would be no fake news. The truths are simple. People only want to read headlines, prefer to watch videos (and primarily videos without sound) and see attention grabbing photos than they ever do REALLY reading something longer than a paragraph, listening to a 2 minute or longer report, doing actual research or coming to a real understanding of any one issue much less doing these things for a world and country full of important issues. And let’s be honest, most people already have preconceived notions and opinions on most things, so they gravitate to any quick snippet that justifies their thinking or gives credence to their mindset. Being objective and wanting actual truth is being overshadowed by people’s inner need and desire to prove they know best or the most and are right for believing what they do.
Looking at reporters, they get their information from sources. These sources consist of every day people from all walks of life and backgrounds, people on the inside of a story that often have their own personal agendas and many other individuals that have just enough influence or believability to warrant reporting a story or using them as a source. Reporters know that the public only responds to attention grabbing headlines and quick media snippets, so news outlets get what information they can and as quickly as possible to give people what they want. Headlines sell! That is true, BUT citizens, who are everyday people, know this too, use it to their personal advantages and then turn on the very people that gave them their platform……..THE MEDIA.
I would like to give you just one real life example of ‘fake news’ to show you how stories get out of hand.
Headline: SUSPECTED DRUNK WOMAN WITH ALCOHOL IN VEHICLE CRASHES INTO MOTORCYCLIST, LEAVING HIM FOR DEAD
Most people, reading the headline above, would assume that a woman was driving drunk or was at the very least drinking some alcohol while driving. Readers would most likely assume that she crashed into a motorcyclist because of the alcohol, immediately killing the person. They may also believe that the woman may have fled the scene. (Everyone’s interpretations are different and depend on how much of the actual story they read). Reporters jump on the story and report tidbits since the whole story and complete information will not be revealed for possibly hours. Citizens read the headlines, and before the woman ever makes it home from the accident, she is being crucified and threatened for being an alcoholic killer. Social media posts run rampant, and the public jumps all over this story.
Now, what if you found out the truth which isn’t reported for days or until such a time when no one is paying attention anymore. Drunk drivers killing people is so common place nowadays that these stories don’t have a very long shelf life so to speak. The truth of the matter is this. A woman, who is a stay at home mom, went to the grocery store while her kids were at school. She was heading home with a vehicle full of groceries which consisted of a 6 pack of beer in one of the bags. She had not consumed any alcohol nor did she have any open containers in the vehicle. On her way home, a speeding motorcyclist ran a stop sign which is what caused the crash. She did nothing wrong, but look at the initial headline. The media got just enough bits and pieces from onlookers and/or law enforcement to go with the story while also giving them a semi-credible, juicy headline which was in no way meant to maliciously harm the woman. The reporter was simply trying to be the first to report the story on the next news show of the day. The headline above was accurate in the sense that she did have alcohol in the car and the crash did kill the motorcyclist, but she was never drunk. The public’s interpretation of the headline and their opinions in regards to the situation were completely different from the actual truth of the story.
Who is at fault for this woman’s life being turned upside down and her reputation being tarnished? The initial headline is the one that most people will have read and/or believe. Society doesn’t really care much about the story after 24 hours, so most will never learn the truth. The woman is publicly and emotionally hurt in this situation and more so by people who wanted quick entertainment or to feel as if they keep up with what’s going on around them. In actuality, the general public did more harm to the woman than the media, the police or the onlookers. It was the public that didn’t care enough to learn the truth or follow the story to the end. They only cared enough to read one headline and maybe a few sentences of information before jumping to conclusions and forming opinions. The public spread the initial story like wildfire, but they failed to spread any follow-up stories or explain the truth once it was revealed. Citizens were just as responsible, if not more so, than the media in this situation.
Everyday, I watch citizens, businesses, political operatives, candidates, elected officials and others with personal agendas push absolute bullshit stories via the media. Those same people then jump on the FAKE NEWS and anti-media campaign. Why would a reporter not believe the people listed above? Are we really so naive as to solely blame the media for what is so clearly the fault of citizens, consumers, a lack of researching before reporting and spreading the news AND the general public? I am not holding harmless the media by any means. They most certainly bare responsibility and accountability in these situations. I just don’t think the media bares the sole responsibility. Everyday people are just as much to blame.
I have been the victim of FAKE NEWS and more times than I can count. What one local reporter did to me and said to me in November was so egregious that I have no respect or kind words for him. BUT, I will not automatically lump all of the media or reporters together because of one. I know the individual(s) who provided that reporter with information, and it is those person(s) that I hold accountable along with a public that really doesn’t want the truth. The truth requires investing time, research, effort and energy into. I don’t know many people that are willing to make such an effort or that desire facts over drama. Maybe the truth lies in this fact. Most people want the scandalous, drama filled headlines because those things make them feel better about their own lives or their own beliefs. It doesn’t take a lot to trash another person or jump on a bandwagon full of people and most especially if you are attempting to deflect the problems and scandals in your own life or attempting to further your own agenda. At the end of the day though, is FAKE NEWS fake bc of the media or rather because of a society full of people with their own wants, desires, beliefs, grievances and agendas trying to further their selves or their beliefs while using those in the media to do so?
Maybe the answer is both.