Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fake News and Trustworthy Sources: Who’s in Your Newsfeed?

Brian Ross of ABC news
Pundits, politicians, and professors are all wringing their hands over the proliferation of fake news. They’re all very concerned about the masses who now believe fake news. One thing that most fail to acknowledge is that many people prefer fake news over real news. Many viewers, readers, and listeners simply prefer news that confirms the things they believe in. It makes life easier. They like fake news and they’re not going to stop consuming it or sharing it simply because someone says it’s bad.
For example, there are people who are eager to believe any negative thing they hear about Democrat leaders simply because they are on the opposite side of the political fence. When a fake  document was  circulated which was supposedly evidence of sexual misconduct by Senator Chuck Schumer, some conservatives ate it up. They did so because they don’t like Schumer.
Likewise, when Brian Ross of ABC aired an erroneous story supposedly proving that President Trump asked Mike Flynn to reach out to the Russians before the election, people on the political left believed and shared because they can’t stand Trump. The story was seriously wrong and ABC suspended Ross for four weeks over it.
It’s not rational to believe every negative thing you hear about someone just because you don’t like him or her. However, that’s how the thinking goes for many people these days. Fortunately, there are some people – and they are probably in the minority – who are concerned about the accuracy of the news they are consuming. They would rather hear the truth even when it clashes with their beliefs.
Most journalists screw up at some point. Getting stories out first is a big deal in journalism. Sometimes when a journalist rushes to get a story out first, corners are cut and mistakes are made. It’s troubling that ABC’s vetting process was not sufficient to keep a big piece of fake news off the air. However, it’s not fair to say that everything ABC News produces is garbage.
Similarly, it’s not fair to write off everything on Fox News because Sean Hannity is a shameless cheerleader for Donald Trump. In addition to the prime time opiners, Fox News employs serious and professional correspondents and commentators like Britt Hume and Catherine Herridge.
In our current news environment, where there are plenty of opportunities to get news that perfectly confirms one’s biases, it’s natural to gravitate toward the sources that tickle our ears the best.
Which news organizations are worthy of your trust because of their professionalism rather than the way they cater to your biases?
Do you believe what they are producing primarily because it aligns with your beliefs?
How do you determine who to follow in your newsfeed?

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