Fake news and the contamination of legitimate journalism

People expect their news sources to be responsible and truthful, but this is not always the case.

Keeping Journalism alive. Fake news stories are becoming more dangerous as false articles quickly fill up the internet.

Flickr Creative Commons: https://flic.kr/p/b7T49Z

Keeping Journalism alive. Fake news stories are becoming more dangerous as false articles quickly fill up the internet.

Jack Benson, The Rubicon Editor

The media is powerful; it sways elections and shapes the way society works. People expect their news sources to be responsible and truthful, but as it was in the election, this is not always the case. The invention of the internet  intensified the reach of news, it leaked into social media and even onto home screens of iPhones.

The great power social media holds comes with the utmost responsibility to provide accurate news. In recent months the legitimacy of news has come into question, and things that once would be easily regarded as false now gain traction and popularity through social media platforms which leads to a sense of legitimacy. In real life, a crazed preacher on the street can spout his claim that the apocalypse is coming, but no one around him will give it a second thought. But, when a fake news story gains millions of shares on social media, people do not question the story’s authenticity because if a million other people are sharing it, it’s probably true. Take for example a story that came out in 2016 from a website named  abcnews.com.co (Not even the real ABC news.) which was titled, “Obama signs a nationwide order banning The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools.”  According to Business Insider The story broke a two million  combination number of shares, likes, and comments.

Fake news stories gain so much traction because of their over the top and extravagant headlines that are designed to draw a reader’s interest in. ”

Fake news stories gain so much traction because of their over the top and extravagant headlines that are designed to draw a reader’s interest in. These headlines work. It is obvious when looking at a news feed that headlines are getting crazier and crazier. The focus of news media has changed to a more despicable idea. As the internet grows advertising revenue replaces the old method of getting money from subscribers. People who read the newspaper because they enjoyed the content. Now many news sources get paid based on how many clicks they get. The more views a page gets the more money advertisers will pay.

So an important question arises, What can be done to stop these fake news stories from spreading? One response is to criticize the platform which spreads these stories like a disease.  A common trend with many of these fake news stories is that they gain traction through Facebook. Facebook took a lot of heat after the election because it was said that fake news stories Facebook. But to really get rid of fake news society needs to change the culture of news. Changing the focus of journalism from the ridiculous and bizarre back to important and interesting news.