About that ‘fake news’ thing…

Much has been made about “fake news” in recent months. It has largely come from the president of the United States. And as much as I hate to agree with him on it, I see what he means… to a point.

Anonymous sources are nothing new. People with inside information often blab secrets as long as they have the reassurance that their identity won’t be revealed. Most reputable journalists and media outlets (at least back in the day) would use credible sources of information before running with details deemed top secret.

It also wasn’t uncommon for news outlets to get double confirmation of something. As an example – and only as an example – let’s say there is a claim the president had been assassinated. A news outlet might ready a story for broadcast based on an initial report but won’t pull the trigger, so to speak, until there is actual confirmation from someone at the White House or directly related to the president. Essentially, two sources confirming the info.

What I tend to see on TV news is a media outlet reporting what another media outlet has reported. For example, CNN saying the New York Times is reporting such-and-such; the Washington Post is reporting that Fox News is saying such-and-such.

I was taught that you don’t quote another news outlet as your source of information. If anything, at least reach out to the originating outlet’s sources to get your own quotes and information.

When I was in journalism school we didn’t live in a 24/7 news world where social media made reporting instantaneous. There used to be time to gather information before the newspaper prints or the suppertime or late-night news goes on the air.

Now media outlets are clamouring to report a story the fastest and if that means piggybacking on another outlet’s reporting, well, at least the cherry pickers can still get a piece of the action.

While I don’t agree on the attack that all media is bad, fake and misleading, I do agree that news outlets should take a little more time to do thorough investigating to produce quality journalism instead of a rush job to break a story first.

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