The phrase of the year for 2016 - 2017 will have to be "Fake News."
Millions of Americans were bamboozled by fake news involving the presidential candidates during the election, much of it, we are now learning, coming from a meddlesome Russia, with others coming from hacking entrepreneurs in eastern Europe looking to cash in on clickbait headlines and phony stories.
Some fake news came from talk radio and cable channels. And some came from party operatives and PACs on both sides.
Some of the fake information was easy to discern as false. But much has been presented in fairly convincing ways that have fooled many of us.
Another part of the problem comes from sensational or erroneous headlines. We are bombarded constantly with information from every angle -- in legitimate media and now also on social media, often forwarded or shared by people we know, even if only online. With so much coming at us, it's easy to just glance at a headline or maybe the first line of a story and then stop.
But the impression may be made. And therein lies the problem. How do we tell the difference between what's real and what's not?
I have my own ways of truing to tell the difference. I trust legitimate media. Even with those media that I trust, I check to see if it's hard news or opinion. I'm cautious about what I believe when it's been shared. Articles can be altered or totally made up when shared online. If I see something that looks like it's from a PAC-funded source -- you get to recognize them after a while -- I usually just ignore it altogether. That goes for things from Democratic-slanted sites as well... and I'm a Democrat. I want information that's truthful, not simply slanted the way I might think.
I'm pleased to see a major project that's being launched to increase trust in real journalism and help educate people to understand how to recognize real and fake news. It's called the News Integrity Initiative, administered by the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate School of Journalism.
Thanks to the support of some major businesses and non-partisan organizations like Facebook, AppNexus, Mozilla, the Ford Foundation, the Craig Newmark (Craigslist) Philanthropic Fund and others, the News Integrity Initiative will open its doors with $14 million working capital, to start the process of educating people about what real journalism is and how it works to strive for the unbiased truth.
I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it. I am so glad to see something like this now. It is needed so much.
Just in... 4/6/17 Check this out. The founder of eBay is giving $100 million for investigative journalism and to help fight fake news. From Adweek, read it here.