According to the American Press Institute, the purpose of journalism is defined by “the function news plays in the lives of people.” I am not a journalist. However, I do believe journalism has a vital role in society. A role that has largely been ignored in recent years. The 2016 election cycle has introduced the public to a new demon: "fakenews." Curiously, the same people who have abandoned us are cautioning readers about these ‘fakers.’ Some have gone so far as blaming the Trump win on “the fakenews phenomena.”
I agree that getting news from Facebook memes is problematic, as well as the alternative sources, such as Salon. The real issue, however, is why people are searching for alternative outlets: we don’t trust the media. This is nothing new, the right and the left have been complaining about mainstream media for years. This election just exacerbates the issue but also indicates the need for a trusted media source.
We have good reason not to trust the media; they have failed to inform the public. We are warned against “fakes” from journalists who misinterpret figures and the law, spread hyperbole, and suggest causal effects where it should be a correlation. (Yes, there is a difference.) Some of the failures are due to bias, some due to laziness, and some due to ignorance. All of which there is little excuse for, as it’s a chosen profession.
Of course, part of the blame is on the readers themselves; people want their news spoon fed at just the right temperature. (Yum.) However, the truth typically lies somewhere in the middle (Darn!). We use the news to shut down or stir up the other side or to get validation—aka ‘likes’—from our political buddies. (Being a Misfit means a lonely Facebook world.)
At this point, it’s every man for himself. Conscious readers feel the need to fact check their morning news story. (Doesn’t someone get paid for that?) Of course, there are still a few good ones out there, but they are generally thought of as ‘boring.’ A ‘proper’ journalists’ job is to provide the facts and let the reader decide what to do with it. If journalism is defined by the role it plays in people’s lives, then I suggest journalists spend less time blaming ‘fakenews’ and more time taking some responsibility.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.