Why is it called Fake News and not Hyperbole Headlines? I guess we’ll just have to take that one up with Trump (as the term has become synonymous with his administration); but whatever we call it – it’s a growing problem.
Fake News has come to mean: stories those in power disagree with (case in point) or just a social media spread of untruth (exhibit A). Even fewer people see fake news as something associated with the mainstream media and reliable sources.
After all, info graphics like this one (from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) tells you to consider the source, or make sure what you’re reading has a credible author. Of course, this sort of rhetoric sets up the idea that there are credible news sources, and then sources of a more questionable nature…
That would all be perfectly true (fake news on one side, credible news on the other) if one of the fundamental principals of media studies wasn’t, check your source.
Media Studies (a subject long associated with this guy) has been encouraging people to question where their need comes from. Think about who owns the newspaper, (that sentence is already outdated); consider who runs the news websites, consider who is posting or tweeting… because as Benyahia et al stated in 2013, ‘the ideal of objective truth is largely untenable’ (Benyahia, 2013:215).
This leads us to one great question: to what extent can we trust our credible sources? This isn’t a rhetorical question – more than not requiring an answer – this is a question that can never be answered.
Take the following as an example: a devastating earthquake hits a country – the eyes of the world are watching. Reports of a young girl trapped, begin to grip the heart of the nation and the wider world. Soon, the girl’s name becomes a Hashtag as the world’s outpouring of grief is dished out in 140-characters.
There is one issue: the girl does not exist. Numerous websites aroubd the world, are now running the story that the girl wasn’t trapped, because she didn’t exist. Her fight for survival, and indeed her, was fabrication.
The irony in all this, is one of the websites that ran the story on the girl’s fight for survival, has now published a piece on the prevalence of fake news. The further irony? The concern-about-fake-news is listed in the ‘technology’ section (it is however, one of the most read stories). What’s worrying about that, is that ‘mainstream media’ lumps fake news in the same category as iPhone updates and maybe doesn’t really thinking about it as one of the defining concerns of current times.
So, there are no trustworthy news sites, anymore? I hear you, cry.
Sure – we have the onion – who have hid in plain sight -the forefront of satire for years. Offering something other than fake news (or hyperbole Headlines, as I will now, forever call them) The Onion, can arguably be seen as a satirical short story website.
This brings me to my last point. If the even the real news is fake, and the other news is satire – where do we go to find the truth? (insert Xfiles joke here).
Maybe there is only one place left to find truth; and only one sort of truth left to find: the universal human truth wrapped in the lies of fiction, literature, short story and theatre.
But then again – I would say that – I’m a writer.