The New York Times recently reported that Donald Trump said he did not use vulgarity to describe Haiti and African countries late last week. Yet according to lawmakers, some confirm the comments the president made in a meeting regarding immigration reform and others “do not recall” the comments referring to these countries as “s***holes”. This story will likely remain a “he said” “she said” debate until another prevalent or infuriating news article surfaces and steals its glory.
In the world of journalism, the difference between fake news and reality has come to a crossroads dividing the political parties of America even further from one another. Unfortunately, the lines between ethical journalism and for-profit journalism have converged to cause a #fakenewsfrenzy. When multiple news organizations across the world create different versions of the truth (or piggyback on a fake news story) to increase their ratings and viewership, we the consumers of the news, suffer.
So wherein lies the truth? For now, this is up to us as readers to determine for ourselves. Here are some things to be cognizant of when consuming news.
The easiest and most effective way to spot fake news is to fact check the information. Ask yourself questions like: Who wrote this article? Is the organization the author is working for a credible organization? What is the reputation of the platform it is posted on? Why does the author want me to read this? Checking multiple sources can help to legitimize or falsify an article.
An example of ever-circulating fake news is the argument that global warming is not human caused. Although 97 percent of scientists believe and support the idea that humans have had an impact on the warming of our planet, 3 percent of scientists still do not. These facts require the general public to focus on creating sustainable solutions to global warming like solar energy instead of focusing on the circular debate of its actuality.
Understanding the Role of Social Media
Social media has changed the way that businesses and news organizations use the internet. For example, public relation fields use social media to create a two-way conversation with consumers. Marketing departments rely on social media to gain company exposure. But most importantly, news organizations use social media as the main platform for sharing news.
In recent years, more people rely on social media for their news coverage than traditional news organization websites, and it has become the main platform for fake news reporting. This has caused a media crisis for news organizations and journalists. While Facebook has worked to crack down on the distribution of fake news, these stories are still distributed freely. Leaving a bad taste in the mouths of consumers regarding reporters.
Don’t be Paralyzed by a Polarized Nation
Whether you become an expert at spotting fake news or you are flustered by current events and ready to react, you have the power to stand up for what you believe in. Contact your local government officials. Vote for the parties and platforms you believe in. Donate to the causes you believe in. Focus on changing what is real and disheartening instead of focusing on that which is falsified.
Unfortunately fake news reports are here to stay. Our job as news consumers is to identify what is false and what is fact and act accordingly. By channeling your inner researcher, you have the power to identify what information is worth consuming and what is worth chalking up as #fakenews.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.