Thursday, April 20, 2017

Identifying Fake News

     I spotted an article earlier today by a self-described citizen journalist on identifying fake news Facebook's recent attempt to help users identify fake new essentially amounted to if it is from a conservative source, it is fake new, so I was anxious to see another perspective even though I was not really expecting one. To my surprise, the article was a thoughtful analysis.
    At the heart of the fake news problem is economics. Journalism does not generate a lot of revenue. I am excluding folks like nightly news anchors who are paid millions to read a teleprompter or the likes of Tucker Carlson or Rachel Maddow. Carlson and Maddow are hyper-partisan entertainers presenting opinions the viewers want to her in a way that makes viewers think they are informs. What I am including is the small time grunts churning out articles and stories to fill newspaper and magazine space as well as the local news channels. They are the men and women who are not getting rich, and they make up 99.9% of journalists.
      A low revenue generating industry requires low paid workers. Low paid workers are more often than not poor quality workers. But journalism is still a business that must compete for attention. Sensationalism catches lot of attention in general. With political journalism, it I partisanship that catches attention. By its definition, partisan journalism is not fair or balanced. Which is to say partisan journalism is often inaccurate. 
     I give the citizen journalist who authored the piece major credit for lay blame on both the left and right.  What this all amounts to is a lot of ow paid, unqualified people producing—and sometimes making up entirely—news presenting a perspective that will catch a certain type of consumer's eye. Let us face it, the truth is rarely a salable product. The author's conclusion was not to trust articles from small, partisan venues as anything but opinion pieces. One should also wait until at least two or three historically reputable news outlets confirm the facts. Of course, with more historically reputable news outlets rely on small blogs and websites—partisan one, at that—even that advice may be suspect.
      It goes without saying, but I will say it, anyway---my blog is not a new source. I flat out admit gods & monsters is nothing but opinion. It is my persona interpretation of issues I find of interest. I am deconstructing politics and culture. My assumption is the reader is well aware of the facts before arriving here. But with how difficult it is becoming to identify fake news, I may be making too big an assumption.

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