An Opinion Doesn't Make A News Story True

posted by Dan Mitchinson - 

I hate the term "fake news." Let me rephrase that, I hate how the term is being used today. It's being used incorrectly by most people. It has become this "catch all" type phrase that tries to discredit stories you read in print, see on TV or hear on radio that you don't agree with.

Before you think I'm just another person in the media trying to come to the defense of my profession, I will agree, there is fake news out there. But as "The Guardian" newspaper  wrote, the term's become widely used-too widely.

"Fake news" from a website or any news organization is something purposely published that is not true. It's not a soundbite or story talking about something you disagree with. That becomes your opinion of the story, or your interpretation of something that is said. It's not reporting you disagree with. 

Unfortunately, the term has become a "buzz word," and people are using it to describe anything they don't agree with, and most of the time they're using it incorrectly. Blog posts, news stories, memes and tweets are being attacked by those who don't understand what the term means. It's leading to a lot more disagreements (to put it nicely) on line (and between friends) and a lot more anger between the White House and reporters. 

More people are getting their news from talk show hosts. Those hosts, or at least most of them, aren't journalists. They offer opinion (yes, I'm talking about Hannity, Rush, Rachel Maddow etc. and those opinions are just that...opinions, not always verified facts that offer both sides of the story.

After 30-plus years in the news biz, I can honestly say I've never seen more people attack one another over view points they somehow manage to twist into a political slant they agree with. From my standpoint, it's been frustrating to watch. I truly believe it's breaking down any civilized conversation we can have...and should have...about anything that impacts our country.

I also know haters like to hate (thanks Taylor Swift). There are internet trolls who will continue to spew hate and twist facts, and there's nothing we can do about...or is there?

 I refer back to the Guardian. They're right on the money when suggesting that you share articles responsibly. Withhold "hate-clicking" on stories designed to make you angry. And "pay for journalism you value."  But above all, it's your responsibility, as it is mine, to search for the truth. Don't take it from one source. Make an effort to get both sides. And don't let your opinion get in the way of the facts. 

Remember, at the end of the day, maybe you shouldn't point your finger at the outlets where you get your news from...maybe you should point it at yourself for choosing those outlets (cable channels that are pro one side or the other, websites that report hearsay not facts, sites that can't verify their sources etc). It's your job, as it is ours, to stay informed and make educated choices.

Dan Mitchinson

Dan Mitchinson

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