By Laura Evans
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Internet is full of fake news: sensationalistic, exaggerated or patently false headlines that are intended to grab attention and spread misinformation. Being a smart consumer of news is critical. It’s no longer a matter of clicking, reading and believing anymore.
And now, on top of the proliferation of fake news, we have an added phenomenon of our own United States President calling traditionally legitimate news organizations “fake news”.
Journalists take their craft seriously. I know, I have been a journalist for more than 25 years. Just like doctors, lawyers and any studied profession, journalists strive to maintain certain standards, principles and good practices amid the daily challenges of newsgathering and storytelling.
Journalists live by their traditional code of ethics: truth, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability. But what muddies the waters are blogger’s articles masquerading as news, and opinion shows woven into a network’s traditional news line up. Never mind the fact that many of today’s news anchors are now being encouraged to give their opinions on the air. That, by definition, violates that code of ethics.
For years, foreign governments have been accused of spreading propaganda to promote their agenda. Is our own government now dipping into the business of propaganda and trying to manipulate public opinion by calling legitimate news “fake”? By the same token, aren’t journalists who don’t stick to the traditional code of ethics doing the same thing?
We live in an ever-changing world – a world overflowing with a constant, non-stop stream of information – and it will fall more and more on each of us to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction.
Laura Evans, Laura Evans Media, is former news anchor at WTTG-TV