The Truth about Fake News

The media is a form of communication that surrounds our lives. Whether it be social media, newspapers, or TV, its main purpose is to inform its audience. Many things the media report on have been deemed untrue or ‘fake’, when this may not be the case. The media legally can’t publish false news stories. There are regulatory bodies that enforce laws, regulations and seek to protect public interest. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a huge uproar on the effects of the media on people’s lives. Caroline Flack’s tragic death has been labelled by many as manslaughter by the media. They believe that the ‘fake news’ surrounding her life caused her death. This increased scrutiny on the media is needed, and it is untruthful to say that the media are perfect. The scrutiny, however, should be on the perception of the news the media presents. However, if media law prohibits ‘fake news’, then why is it such a huge topic?

If you look at the news today, the majority of its stories are negative. The media, for whatever reason, presents only what we fear as a nation. The lack of positivity within the media is unnerving for an industry whose purpose is to inform the public about what is going on in the world. We have such a negative perception of people, and the world, that it is only fitting for the media to be blamed for many tragic incidents, but is this fake news?

No. The media may focus on the negatives in our society but they’re not false in what they are saying. The real problem is the way we handle the news given to us by the media. Many people live out of fear, and many go on with their lives as normal, and for some people the negativity is too much. People label news reports as ‘fake news’ just because they don’t like the facts. Take Donald Trump, for example, he classifies any negative news about him as ‘fake’, when, in fact, the media have to be so careful not to jeopardise their own reputation, and ability to be journalists, and provide us with the news. The real problem is social media.

Social media is, of course, another media platform, like newspapers or TV, but unlike these, social media doesn’t have a regulatory body of the same scale and power as print or television media does. To write in the newspapers, or to present on TV, you must have the proper licencing and training; in other words, not everyone can do it. Social media, however, has made everyone, in their own right, a journalist. We are bombarded with surplus opinions on public affairs and because there is no one to regulate what people are saying until after it’s posted, that is when the false information, or ‘fake news’ spreads.

People forget that social media, despite the name, is a form of media communication, just like the others. Newspaper and TV broadcasts come under scrutiny by the public for something that was portrayed falsely on social media. Yes, the media can be, and mostly is, very negative, but it’s unfair to say that it’s all untrue, because it mostly isn’t. ‘Fake news’ is just a phrase created to express a feeling of dislike or disapproval towards certain things, and because of print and television media having a huge public presence, they are criticised for it.

The media is not a perfect place, and sometimes does fabricate stories for their own personal gain, but the main purpose of the media is to communicate. Whether it be through Twitter, or the evening news, or broadsheet newspapers, the media are there to serve the best interests of the public. The media is a place where all opinions can be heard, and, thus, this can lead to some biases, or some inaccuracies, but this does not mean all news is fake ‘news’.

The society we live in today has many more opportunities to share our opinions and stories than ever before, so it is up to us to filter out any inaccuracies, because the media, like us, is only human.

Article by Young Reporter Sophie Read
Appeared first in Grimsby Telegraph 25th Feb 2020