Is an article or a newspaper really “fake news” because the audience does not approve of what is being reported?
No — hell no.
That tends to be the new catchphrase for those readers and viewers who disagree with stories that are used for publication. “Fake news” is used so irresponsibly that nobody even really knows what the real definition of it is.
According to Collins Dictionary, fake news means “false, often sensational information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.”
The phrase caught momentum during last year’s presidential election when both President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton used it towards news organizations that they believed published unflattering or potentially libelous stories about them.
Yet, if a newspaper or a TV station is just reporting the facts and it is not in the favor of those involved in the story, why is the media taking the heat?
They shouldn’t be. It is our job as journalists to report the truth because our duty is to inform the public and serve as the watchdog.
Just recently, The Recorder caught fire for being a “fake news” media organization from Twitter users for publishing a piece titled, “Sorority Suspended From Campus Following Hazing Allegations.”
The reporter who wrote the story had accurate information, but did not include in the story that the sorority had allegedly appealed the decision made by the university and their suspension was reduced from five years to only two years. The writer was not informed of this until after the article was published.
The former Central Connecticut State University president of Phi Sigma Sigma and student government vice president, who was a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, were both reached out to for comments and both declined. The reporter was not given the opportunity to get their side of the story, but she did her part to connect with them.
And then there is this word that exists in journalism that does not give reporters that much leeway in waiting for sources to get back to them: deadlines.
So why was there backlash and why was “fake news” branded onto The Recorder when the reporter did her job and gathered all the appropriate information?
They simply did not agree with the story. Not because it was fake; they were just not happy with the story being published.
Again, misusing the phrase “fake news.”
We must acknowledge there are instances where inaccurate stories are published and newspapers as well as news stations must retract the false information. However, mistakes do happen and mistakes did not just start during the presidential election of 2016 — they occurred well before then.
It is not to say mistakes and inaccuracies are acceptable, but this is something that has existed since the yellow journalism of the 1890s and even before then.
With all the obstacles that the media already has to face with getting and reporting their stories, “fake news” is just one of the latest hurdles that journalists must overcome.
And it becomes that much more frustrating when people do not know the real definition of it.