Fixing fake news will not fix the press

In this regard, how do we talk about fixing press errors? I suggest that we focus on three core issues:

Issue 1: The news is not true

Right from the start, people have changed the truth for the sake of politics. During the final Roman Republic war, Octavian used false information to help him defeat Mark Antony. However, in the earlier period, propaganda often originated from powerful people and was spread through traditional mass media. Barriers to distribution were much higher than they are today: It costs money to produce and distribute a publication. Building a credible brand and gathering its audience for it has been more difficult. Most publications follow general communication guidelines, and when they do not, they will be sued.

The Internet has changed the rules, facilitating asymmetric information warfare, in which small groups of people can play social network algorithms and social interactions to maintain false claims. dizzying speed. A teen with access to WordPress can make a publication that looks convincing The New York Times. And with so many webzines revolving around cyberspace, regulators and the legal system cannot properly enforce libel laws. Simply put, lying is cheap and easy and has no consequences. Some creators are driven by politics, but others have found quick ways to profit from generating viral traffic where they can sell advertisements. Still others are just doing it to laugh, or be pleased to create a little chaos.

This type of digitally disseminated misinformation is an issue, but according to a January study from Stanford University and New York UniversityIt is not the dominant news source for the upcoming election. Furthermore, the study notes that only 14% of Americans call social media their “most important” source of information during their election preparation.

In December, Facebook announced a series of first steps to solve the hoax on its platform. In addition to allowing users to flag false information, the company will try to circumvent financial incentives for people who maintain false titles. The company also said it will analyze data on how people share stories to try to digitally identify false stories. These are strong first steps to getting rid of spam.

Issue 2: The news is biased

In a short time in US history, measuring half the time of the 19th century and most of the 20th, readers expect their news to be unbiased. They give journalists the responsibility to report not a version of the truth, but rather ipso facto truth. They expect reporting to be fair and balanced. The goal is to pursue objectivity. It coincides with a time when we generally believe in inclusive organizations, believing that our governments, businesses, and the press are all interested in our best interests and acting honestly. The credibility of the news organizations is strengthened when over and over again, they are right.

Even before the advent of the Internet, the myth of absolute objectivity began to disappear. But, for the most part, an educated reader can identify bias. We still receive our news from a small number of sources and we can pick out their political tendencies and observe how their views influence their reports. The The Wall Street JournalThe version of a story will always be true to the version published by The New York Times. Fox News will always broadcast more cautiously than CNN.

We have now entered the superpartisan era, in which our media diets align with our world views, and they are increasingly narrow. News programs also followed suit, prioritizing predictability and depth over gathering news directly to win viewership. Everything has become something of a “catchy” thing, and readers turn to hot scenes that are consistent with their world views, further amplifying that partisan spirit.

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