Fake News vs. Real News

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Fake News vs. Real News

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

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The phrase “fake-news” has become very well known in many communities in America, including Blacksburg; this is the result of the media attention it has been getting from politics. Unfortunately this phrase is having negative effects on how people are viewing the truth, the press, and journalists.

Many news outlets across America have covered the topic of “Fake News” recently such as Fox News, CNN, FactCheck, and the New York Times. These news outlets have expressed a variety of opinions on the topic, and as a result people around America have divided opinions.

So what is fake news? “Fake News” is the use of propaganda that consists of deliberate use of misinformation or hoaxes spread by different forms of media such as Facebook. It is not fake news when a journalist or reporter unintentionally makes a mistake.

It is important that high school students and teachers know how to identify “fake news” because untrue news stories can have real-life consequences.

“Many argue that fake news, often highly partisan, helped Donald Trump get elected,” said Dominik Stecula from the Conversation.

“My opinion on fake news is that it is far too frequent these days, and it makes it difficult for us to know what information we can and cannot trust. I think it’s really important that students and teachers understand how to differentiate a reliable source from an unreliable one and learn which websites they can and cannot trust,” said Claire Stanaland, sophomore.

To differentiate between fake news and real news, readers should first determine whether the article is an opinion piece.  Those are written in an informal manner using personal pronouns and are designed to be persuasive by cherry picking select facts. In news stories, readers should  keep an eye out for misspellings and incorrect grammar because those are usually signs of an unreliable source. It is also a good idea to cross reference news sources to get the most trustworthy information. Don’t rely on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for news stories, as these can be misleading.

Fake news is not only a problem in America, but also in many countries around the world. In England, the University of Stalford and CBBC Newsround completed a study involving nine through fourteen-year-old kids to investigate how many children can differentiate between fake and real news. The results showed that only half of the students could tell an untrue news story from a real news story. As a result of this study, James Harding, the director of BBC News stated, he will “attempt to go into schools to speak to young people and give them the equipment they need to distinguish between what’s true and what’s false.”

Over the last few weeks, news outlets such as CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have been  accused of producing “fake news” by the President of America. The public has began to distrust the media more as a result.

“CNN is ‘fake news.’ I don’t take questions from CNN,” said Trump when he interrupted CNN reporter Jim Acosta on July 13 during Trump’s press conference in England.

Many news networks across the country were taken aback by the President’s comment, including CNN’s rival, Fox News, whose very own reporter John Roberts chose to speak out, “ I used to work at CNN. There are some fine journalists who work there and risk their lives to report on stories around the world. To issue a blank condemnation of the network as ‘fake news’ is also unfair.”

Students from BHS also have found problems with the way some trust anything they hear, and then others label news they don’t like as fake.

“I think that a lot of people believe anything they hear, and that leads to a lot of problems. Other people are really untrusting of any information, and they will label anything that conflicts with their own opinion as fake news,” said Stanaland.

Eugene Kiely from FactCheck.org found that Trump used the term “fake news” over 320 times this past year, and a number of times the term has been used incorrectly.

Understanding “fake news” is undeniably important as it gives the Blacksburg community a chance to protect itself from being lured into a phony news story that would only spark concern and waste time.

Fact Box:

How to Identify and and avoid fake news:
  • Look for Informal language using personal pronouns
  • Look for misspellings and grammar
  • Don’t rely on social media
  • Cross reference your news
  • Use a familiar and reliable news source
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