ELLEN HASTINGS | CONTRIBUTOR
With the improvement of technology and the abundance of information, a new problem has arisen: the hard and fast ability to spread news without all the facts or confirmation. News sources are no longer held accountable for what they ‘print’ and if they acquire a reputation for being incorrect on their stories, rebranding is a click away.
Before the technology boom, the problem to solve was how to get information to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. The bright side, that has now been discovered, is the accuracy of the information being printed. If it takes time and money to report the news like it does with physically printed newspapers, one wants to ensure there isn’t a need to reprint or issue a retraction.
If a newspaper published an article either misinterpreting facts or without all the pertinent information, they wouldn’t remain in business. Said newspaper would lose money and their standing credibility. Customers would turn to alternative sources because the newspaper is failing at its sole job: to keep readers well-informed.
With Facebook, Snapchat and any article a click away, the risk is not the same as a weekly newspaper’s. If any of these social media sources get a sliver of interesting news, they are prompted to post it right away, accompanied with a flashy title, dramatic music and dramatic photos. ‘Clickbait,’ along with the need for more views and breaking the story, trumps the desire for accuracy. This is what creates ‘fake news’. Often the reporting is made up of facts that are linked together to paint whatever picture fits the Narrative, with appropriate sound bites to back it.
The responsibility for accurate information then falls to us, the readers. It is important for everyone to think about what is being said before we share or worse go out and ‘protest’ over some outrageous but not-quite-true event.
A prime example is the executive orders made by President Donald Trump. Many Left-leaning publications – such as Cosmopolitan – have something to say about all the ‘terrible’ things the president was doing in just his first few weeks in office.
In reality, he was staying true to his campaign promises. More importantly, these sites that normally tell a young adult how to dress for their first date were misinterpreting the meaning of some of the executive orders. Some were orders to Congress to focus on issues and legislation the President wanted to prioritize, and others were acting orders.
In the end it is a wonderful problem that we have. Too much news is a byproduct of technology and the right to freedom of speech. With the freedom of press, it is now the responsibility of every citizen to sift through the incorrect information and get to the facts. It is a beautiful privilege that must be taken advantage of. Use the resources available and get the facts before you start a riot or share a flashy video.