By Ian Gillan
Fake news. Two words that have dominated the media in recent months, and some lucky #PRKent students got to learn all about it at PRSSA’s National Conference in Boston. Panelist Tom Fiedler, David Dahl, Kelley Chunn and John Carroll gave a brief history of fake news in the journalism industry in addition to providing students with tips on how to avoid and combat fake news.
While the mainstream coverage of fake news is a recent phenomenon, it’s crucial to remember that the existence of fake news itself is not. Historians have always been questioned and false news stories have always found a way to gain traction. These stories could be internet gossip that an animal rights group is planning to use ticks to give humans an allergy to meat, or a New York publication claiming there was life on the moon.
Unfortunately, the term ‘fake news’ has recently been reinterpreted from being a story that is based on objectively false information to apply to any story the reader deems untrue. This major shift in definition came in the wake of the 2016 election with over half of the American population thinking news organizations promote fake news.
In its most basic form fake news exist for two major reason: to make money, or to promote a political agenda. Regardless of the source of the information, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to sort fact from fiction when looking for stories, sources, and new information. Ultimately, combating fake news comes down to the consumers, and while there is no way to completely avoid false news, you can evaluate what news you are consuming. When consuming information, always remember to: