Lab 7 – Fake News

Image result for fake news cartoon          “Fake News” is any and all news articles and stories that fail to adequately verify its claims. This allows for a wide range of opportunities for fake news fester: from willing misinformation coming from the quoted or anonymous source of the information, blatant or subtle biases, varying amounts of interpretation/speculation on actual events, and the creation of aspects of stories to whole narratives. Often the goal of Fake News is satire, but Fake News can be far more insidious, created to further ideologies and isolate groups of people with like thoughts.

Consider the Center for Medical Progress’ claim that Planned Parenthood was involved in the sale of aborted fetus parts. The story ran after the group published documentary style footage featuring senior management members of Planned Parenthood discussing their sale of, again, fetus parts. The Prolife movement, understandably, were incensed by these stories, and as an inciting piece of news, it was highly and profitably circulated. However, it was soon revealed that the footage had been heavily edited, placing multiple comments out of a context and splicing words together. So while the only outright lie was told by the Center for Medical Progress, other sites paraded around unverified information as truth, falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of something heinous and using it as fuel for the political movement to unfund them.

The responsibility to prevent is not the government, but the journalistic entities themselves. Journalism should seek to be apolitical and a mouthpiece for truth, as opposed to a profit driven endeavor. Government oversight leads to politicization which could very easily act to infringe upon the first amendment freedoms of the press. In general, what passes editorial muster should be sourced by a named source, or the stories verified with documentation of the reported upon phenomenon. This at minimum, phases out a good chunk of the insidious fake news, while still allowing for journalistic freedom.

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