The term ‘fake news’ has been trending all over the web and it’s almost depressing. Adding and twisting information for the purpose of sensationalizing has slowly become a threat to democracy— this statement has been repeated numerous times for many months in preparation for the US Presidential campaign. Media has finally conceded the power it holds over its audience and its role as a tool for mind conditioning.
Aidan White’s 2017 article, “Facebook and Matters of Fact” in The Ethics of News, connotes that news journalism is now being used as a means to communicate inaccuracy and misinformation. News becomes a platform of intellectual persuasion. It was evident in two recent and popular issues – Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, there has been loose access to classified documents subject to various interpretations depending on who interprets it.
“The free circulation of malicious lies, the ineffectiveness of fact-checking, the resilience of populist propaganda, racism and sexism and the emergence of the so-called post-truth era appear to challenge a fundamental cornerstone of ethical journalism.” (White, 2017) We cannot say exactly what the motivations of modern and digital media are but there seems to be an obvious clue why this is happening.One theory could be the connection between communications media and the permeation of advertising into daily living.
The impact of media in the succeeding generations since the invention of television is staggering. Visual persuasion has heightened with the introduction of smartphones, mobile devices, and different applications. These persuasive messages are inserted in commercials and regular TV programming. Media studies refer to this as influence attempts (Everyday Influence) and because media has become a routine in the 20th century, the brain easily gets used to being infiltrated by these attempts.
Advertising is an unlikely culprit. It is described as “a means of communication for a product, service or idea” where it conventionally serves as a method for product endorsing. Advertising might be the means, but its power to persuade is its secret weapon.
Persuasion continues to permeate the system leaving marks of it in print and visual media until it invades traditional, visual, digital, and social media that attracts us, its audience. This is where persuasion influences the news transforming it into a method of endorsing an idea rather than dispatching information. This defeats the real purpose of news. Steve Andriole of Forbes Magazine compared and contrasted mass media since the 1950s and compared it to how then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump used media to his advantage. Objective truth is reduced to numbers and becomes a creation and consumption of alternatives fact. It’s similar to the truth being translated and gets lost in translation along the way. It’s similar to saying that needing a DUI attorney or incurring traffic tickets in Springfield, Missouri are somehow influenced by anything other than people are breaking driving laws, it’s not true and the truth gets buried from consumers. The line between real and fake news has been blurred because the so-called “authorities” of truth are driven by potential monetary and power gain.
The biggest threat to authenticity is the question of accessibility, which is the essence that makes news or information authentic. The accessibility makes anyone express their opinion and create a spontaneous discussion that could lead to major questioning or even doubt. “Decades ago the reach of the truth-versus-falsehood debate was limited to those who studied the differences and the majority of the population who “watched.” A few decades ago the debate was small and therefore manageable primarily because the information itself traveled much more slowly.” (Andriole, 2017)
It’s not about searching for the truth, but more of recovering the truth. The truth has been manipulated in more ways imagined for less than noble reasons. It may take a little moderation for people to be contented with where they stand, media-wise. Until then, any information will continue to unravel and will be unstoppable. Much like how people want to know the actual truth on things that affect their lives, like if they have an STD (speaking of if you think you have an STD then check out STDAware testing/clinics close to me) and other issues that thrive on needing to know the actual truth so you can do something about a situation if needed, the American people need and deserve to know the truth from the media so that they can make the same decisions about issues that related to their life.