By Gail Hunt
Journalism plays a vital role in our society, bringing important news and information to our lives. It educates and informs us on issues that affect us in our community and country, as well as help us understand the global world around us.
A journalist’s job is to establish the facts of a story, by fact-checking and sharing information with the public. Today however, journalists face many challenges. With the rise of social media and fake news, Americans are simply not getting their news from reliable sources. It has become harder to identify fact versus fiction. News stories that are posted and shared on social media are often not fact-checked. Being the first media outlet to post a breaking news story all too often seems to be the goal, rather than taking the necessary steps to be accurate and fact check one’s sources.
When a story breaks, speed and accuracy are important to the journalist, but should never be compromised, “neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy when it comes to informing the audience.” (SPJ, Code of Ethics).
Fake News is Not Journalism
According to the Society of Professional Journalists, one of the core principles of ethical journalism is to “Seek Truth and Report It.”. Journalists are encouraged to take responsibility for the information they report, regardless of the platform. The authors of fake news do not seek the truth, but provide deliberate misinformation and news that is fabricated to the public.
Negativity towards the press hit an all time high during our last Presidential election, with the public’s mistrust in the media. On February 16, 2017, President Trump berated the media repeatedly at his press conference, calling CNN, the New York Times and other outlets dishonest and “very fake news”.
Trump Attacks “Very Fake News”
(Video: Reuters / Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
With the phenomenon of fake news, the public needs ethical journalism today more than ever. We can all do our part by working together. Journalists who continue to deliver consistent, accurate and quality content, above speed will prevail. And for the rest of us, remember to check your sources of news and information. Never use just one source of information, do your homework and compare stories and information. Help stop the spread fake news by not clicking and sharing every post you read on social media