Let’s face it – those in the journalism industry are facing a tough time at the moment. Now more than ever, people do not want to trust journalists because of the possibility that whatever they are writing is “fake news.”
However, you can’t blame them though. With social media at its peak, anyone can spread information. Whether it is a young college student videotaping a protest and broadcasting it on Snapchat to your great uncle sharing his racist views on Facebook – there is no escape from the wrath of social media and those who want to freely express their opinion – good or bad. Although social media enables individuals to connect to an even greater network of people through platforms such as, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, these supposed benefits do come with their consequences.
These consequences were made clear through the unexpected spread of fake news during the 2016 Presidential Election. With articles spreading that detailed how the Pope endorsed Donald Trump to news of an FBI agent associated with the Hillary Clinton case being found dead – it is shocking how people actually believed these articles to be true and chose to spread them around on their various media platforms.
In a recent article by BuzzFeed News, in which they listed 50 of the biggest fake news hits on Facebook, it is embarrassing how an article titled, “Woman arrested for defecating on boss’ desk after winning the lottery,” received over 1.7 million shares, comments and reactions on Facebook.
So whose fault is this? Should we blame the reader for believing such a thing? Or the media platform that enabled readers to have access to the articles in the first place? Although everyone has the right to freedom of the press, at what point has this freedom been taken advantage of? What does this mean for the future of journalists and the news industry?
As we look forward to the future, it is up to the journalists to stick to their morals and only write material that is true for the purpose of informing readers, NOT to get the most amount of “hits.” It is up to the readers to do more than just read the headlines, they must critique the article and learn to not carelessly share articles without checking them first.
And I’m not alone – with articles popping up everywhere from NY Times to the Center for Media Literacy, there are so many individuals out there that want to bring back a good reputation for journalism, rather than the one that has been tainted by fake news articles and money-hungry journalists.
As for right now, we will just have to wait and see. However, for those studying journalism, like myself, the key is to stay loyal to your practice and not be affected by those who disapprove of journalists due to their biased views of the industry. Not everyone is “fake news.”