On Wednesday, March 29, a panel was held to discuss fake news, headlines, framing and using fraudulent news or scientific studies. It was an eye-opening experience.
Growing up, news was news. I took it as it is, and that was that. As I got older, I began to understand the issue of conglomerate corporate media and the role money and big business played in the news. This was nothing new.
For years people were dealing with the issue of corporate media and the stranglehold they had on information. Upon the creation of the internet, many were ecstatic and hopeful to see this new forum that would allow free speech to break through, and true journalism achieved. Looking at the state of the internet and news today, that is far from the truth.
Today, we face a new issue—the issue of real and fake news.
The panel’s first topic of discussion was fake news headlines. There are so many news sources out today, so much volume, that fake headlines are getting just as much (if not more, in some cases) buzz than the real ones. A study presented showed that when a story is shared from a source the reader trusts, they are more likely to believe it. Cue our recent contemporary issue revolving around President Donald Trump and the spread of fake news.
This topic could not have come at a better time. The fake headlines are becoming such an issue that people are just sharing shocking headlines—not even going as far as to read the article and definitely not checking for accuracy.
Playing off the fake headlines is where framing, the next topic of discussion, can come into play. Framing is something everyone does—whatever way you view something is the way you frame it.
Some people view things differently than others. A great example to use is public speaking. Some people love it; some people hate it. No matter what, public speaking never changes—just how people look at (or frame) the activity.
The same goes for news. Different news stations can all report the same thing but frame it differently. One of the pillars of journalism is to adhere to the facts as well as to be honest. However, it is easy to see all the major networks like CNN, Fox, etc. leaning their respective ways on the scale of left or right wing, and because of this, everyone is getting a half-truth.
They are getting facts, yes, but they are not getting the right facts presented in the right frame. By reporting something and making it look better or worse for a certain candidate because of the political affiliation of the network, everyone loses.
These major networks have the most reach out of anyone else, and they must realize that using the framing techniques they are constantly using is going to just continue the trend of fake news, wrongful interpretation of the news and, worst of all, the wrong information getting to the people.
How to combat this information? That is where the final discussion comes into play. The last speaker discussed how fake news should be framed, in order to rid the practice of using information falsely and getting false results.
Yes, the journalist’s first obligation is to the truth. But the truth and facts, as seen with framing, can get messy. By framing the facts any way you want, you can still use real facts but present them in a way that favors whatever background the respective channel may have.
This is why the journalists must use the facts and present them in the correct context.
Media channels must change their stride and become unafraid of presenting the truth. Sometimes it may not line up with their ideals, but sometimes, the truth hurts.
Alex Libutti is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AL803657@wcupa.edu.