Differentiating Fake News in Mass Media Journalism

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Explain the Forces Driving Fake News
  3. Solutions or Best Practices for Dealing with Fake News


Today, journalism is under attack. The tensions between the responsibilities of journalists and the prerogatives of the government when dealing with issues of national security are exacerbated by a body politic fortified by partisan certitude, by technology designed to ferret out confidential sources, and by nation-states with hidden agendas. One of the most significant ethical challenges that are facing journalists today is the issue of fake news in addition to its use as a weapon of asymmetric warfare. The issue of fake news has, as a result, become a national threat to security especially in the field of media and journalism. The recent electoral experience with foreign disinformation raises the question of the responsibilities vested in journalists, private firms, and the government to protect democracy from foreign political subversion through the dissemination of 'fake news' intended to affect political discourse or undermine national security. The field is professionally unprepared for this new reality. This paper explores fake news an ethical challenge facing journalism today, the forces driving fake news and how citizens, journalists, and policymakers are addressing the issue by offering solutions for dealing with the problem.

Fake news is a tough problem to tackle. Its real-world impact and influence on public opinion have produced a variety of different harms, such as: tainting individual reputations; causing physical safety issues; eroding civic discourse; and, arguably, even the eroding of the democratic process. While its harmful effects seem apparent, ‘fake news' itself is hard to define, and therefore challenging to identify, much less to proscribe. Fake news is generated by outlets that masquerade as actual media sites but promulgate false or misleading accounts designed to deceive the public. When these activities move from sporadic and haphazard to organized and systematic efforts, they become disinformation campaigns with the potential to disrupt campaigns and governance in entire countries

Explain the Forces Driving Fake News

Journalism is in a state of considerable flux as new digital platforms have unleashed innovative journalistic practices that enable novel forms of communication and greater global reach than at any point in human history. But on the other hand, fake news is accelerating and affecting the way individuals interpret daily developments. Driven by foreign actors, citizen journalism, and the proliferation of talk radio and cable news, many information systems have become more polarized and contentious, and there has been a steep decline in public trust in traditional journalism. Fake news and sophisticated disinformation campaigns are especially problematic in democratic systems, and there is a growing debate on how to address these issues without undermining the benefits of digital media. for purposes of maintaining an open, democratic system, it is essential that government, business, and consumers work together to solve these problems.

Another critical driver of fake news is that many people rely on online news. As a result, there is high possibility f being fed with fake news that spread in many social media platforms. Also, research states that in India, nationalism is the driving force behind fake news. According to the research that was conducted, it was found that facts were less important to some than the emotional desire to bolster national identity. The study adds that distrust of mainstream news outlets pushed people to spread information from alternative sources, without attempting to verify it, in the belief that they were helping to spread the real story. People were also overly confident in their ability to spot fake news. In India, health scares are prominent among widely shared fake news stories, and many news consumers visit both credible and fake news sources without distinguishing between them.

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In another case, technology is an enabler of fake news and a potential tool to combat it. It can be agreed that technology plays a vital role in the circulation of the so-called fake news. Even though the technology is an important tool for the dissemination of fake news it also offers methods to analyze their real impacts and tools with which fake news can be argued against and even, more or less democratically, stopped. The internet has dramatically changed how information and ideas are circulated. In general, these changes are for the better, and more content is created, which gives more consumers choices, and there is more convenient access to information, education, and other people. The change has also caused problems.

On the traditional internet gateways that quality-controlled and fact-checked the content before publishing are gone. This results not only in a freer exchange of ideas but also in the circulation of ideas that may be wrong and even harmful. The most powerful technology to disseminate ideas and information is social media technology, with services such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. They spread not only 'good' but also 'bad' ideas and have so far made little effort to make a distinction. Technology can also be used to improve the information that is circulating. A combination of artificial intelligence and human effort can re-create the effects of editing and quality control known in the traditional media.

How Journalists, Citizens, and Policymakers Are Addressing Fake News

Journalists and policymakers have recently announced strategies that have included greater policing of actors that transparently misrepresent themselves on social media, improved systems for users to flag information they suspect to be false, and partnerships with third-party organizations to evaluate claims and make fact-checking reports available in order to help users make more informed decisions about sharing content they encounter. Policymakers and journalists are promoting news literacy and responsible professional journalism in their societies. The news industry, on the other hand, is providing high-quality journalism to build public trust and correct fake news and disinformation without legitimizing them. Technology companies are at the same time also investing heavily in tools that identify fake news, reduce financial incentives for those who profit from disinformation and improve online accountability. Educational institutions are not left behind as they are assisting in informing people about news literacy a high priority. Finally, individual citizens are following a diversity of news sources, and are being skeptical of what they are reading and watching.

Solutions or Best Practices for Dealing with Fake News

As media experts and journalists are pointing fingers to the culprits and causes of fake news, the focus of the debate has started to shift toward tools and regulations aimed at preventing hoax stories from spreading in the first place. Therefore, to begin dismantling the real-world effects of fake news, it is believed that four overarching principles can inform the solutions employed by the stakeholders of the news ecosystem. These are principles include the respect for freedom of expression, Accountability, Transparency, and Respect for Context. The solutions we provide, supported by these principles, will address to whom these Guidelines are directed; to what end; and by what means. There are also some recommendations like automatic news verification, citation standards, delivering corrections, changing visibility, and organizational collaboration. Each principle and proposal is aimed at players in the ecosystem to mitigate the harmful effects of fake news on the public.

However, the recommendations and practices suggested are not intended to eradicate the problems of fake news, but to diminish its effects, and prevent similar issues from developing in the future. By suggesting fundamental techniques that encourage digital literacy, the objective is to limit the spread of the most egregious forms of fake news, without censoring other forms of expression, or designating any one entity as the arbiter of truth. However, given the complexity of the problem, some of the factors that allowed for the spread of fake news can only be partially addressed. In the process of fighting the spread of fake news, algorithms should be used to fight algorithms. This is because algorithms are part of what spreads the fake news - yet false stories which become popular can be pushed out to new eyeballs by the software that runs social networks. But some programmers think computer code could also be part of the solution. Another solution can be incorporating digital literacy into school curriculums whereby people are taught how to spot fake news themselves.

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