Opinion Column

Rise of Fake News label lazy and paranoid

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Despite more ways of doing so becoming available, I firmly believe people are running out of ways to actually express themselves. 

 

That or they’re becoming lazy. 

Few terms will get my hair up like U.S. president Donald Trump’s standby of “Fake news.” The phrase has turned into a catch-all for “source that does not share my point of view.” 

It has replaced the short-lived “MSM” or mainstream media, which replaced the long-standing Liberal media and right wing rag as the go-to label. 

The irony of it all, it was popularized by a man who speaks more false truths than any news outlet while trying to convince the public that the White House is the only source of true information. Which is why they are embroiled in scandal over covert dealings with the Russians and whether or not Trump told the FBI director to back off of an investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn. 

But I digress. 

The usual suspects and pundits have gripped onto the term and spout it whenever they can about a story or news organization that does not share their political viewpoints. Many brand entire segments of the traditional news gathering industry with the notorious slogan. 

What it amounts to is saying because you don’t like the Calgary Flames, you hate the entire NHL. It is a completely paranoid and irrational way to inform oneself. 

Most of these people instead bury themselves in the blogosphere of extremes of their political spectrum of choice, not realizing these blogs and wannabe conservative/liberal voices rely on the hated MSM for their information, that or they feed on themselves and regurgitate what someone has already said better.

Very few actually do the work to produce original, accurate news. Most cherry pick their rant du jour from the headlines or take snippets of stories completely out of context to shape their latest scathing commentary. Many scour the Internet, looking for one extreme example to hold up in the face of what is being widely reported as proof, the media is out to get them and refuses to report on their side. Generally they’re grabbing said example from a newspaper or TV news website. 

The president is one of the worst at this, especially concerning his disparaging views on London mayor Sadiq Khan and his approach to terrorist attacks in his city. He grabs partial quotes to bolster the foundation of his generally incoherent diatribe as a way to build up his hardline American-way stance. Unfortunately his support base eats it up without fact checking, and if someone shows them the error of their way, well the two-word response is ready to be fired — FAKE NEWS! 

Canada is no better. Every day I see long, near-viral threads purporting about one side or the other with “facts” that are nowhere near accurate. Here it’s a long string of fear mongering about a vote for Andrew Scheer is a vote for regression, or how Justin Trudeau is killing Canada one selfie at a time.

The sad thing is, it doesn’t matter what political party you support, they all provide enough actual ammunition that you should never have to make things up if you’re looking to rip into them. 

The rise of social media has made this Fake News phenomena that much more potent. If people rarely read past the headlines — all I have to do is look at some comments under our stories posted on Facebook to know this is an issue even in Camrose — how many are actually going to fact check a rant from a random blogger? Even my own mother, God love her, is guilty of this. 

It’s much easier to join the mob’s chorus than to do a simple Google search. 

I ask you to please be better than that when forming your views, whether they’re left, right or middle of the road. 

With newspapers and other members of the evil MSM, you have trained journalists who actually show their work. Are they 100 per cent right 100 per cent of the time? No, but they are not intentionally getting it wrong either. And yes there are some news organizations that fall on either side of the spectrum, but they do fall on both sides. 

I implore you to seek out opposing viewpoints, understand the difference between an editorial (an organization’s view point), a column (a writer’s personal view point), and a story (a piece that is written without an opinion, presenting the facts of an issue). 

And for the love that is all holy, go in with an open mind on whatever you read, and do a quick search to verify before you pass on FAKE NEWS! 

 



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