So What About "Fake News"? Well Let Me Tell You How I Feel About THAT
I get this question over and over again. Why wouldn’t I. I would ask it too if I was you. The infamous question is: “What do you think about fake news?”. And I have to say that I often don’t even know how to answer. So many things come to my head that I’m sure the answer seeker is probably thinking… “uh oh”. But since elections are quickly approaching, I want people to know how I really feel about the “fake news” (spot the oxymoron). Hopefully this makes a difference even if it’s a tiny one.
Having researched and investigated the effects of censorship and violence against journalists, the first thing that comes to mind is “don’t...drink…the... kool-aid”. The “fake news” phenomena to me, seems to be a fad. At least one thing is clear. Journalists ask the rough, uncomfortable questions that no one else wants to ask. Believe me, many times we are CRINGING on the inside but hey, we got ourselves into this mess. That’s our duty. It is also our duty to keep digging when things don’t seem right no matter who we are researching about. It is our duty to get into scary places, war zones, revolts, disease-infected areas, turf wars. IT IS OUR DUTY. But come to think of it, it is really not. It is what we want to do… for some odd reason. To figure out things, to uncover, to give a stage to people who would never in their lives otherwise be heard. Having interviewed sons of journalists killed by Pablo Escobar, I can vehemently attest to the altruistic nature of news reporters. There are thousands of families shattered around the world simply because they were asking too many questions. And the “funny” thing is, if they had to do it all over again, they most likely would.
Alright onto second thought! I hate to break it to you (no pun intended) but, as a reader, it is your responsibility to be an educated news consumer. There’s only so much us journalists can do. We can’t filter every website, every pop-up, every news look-alike article that appears in your computer. It is your responsibility to ask: Where is this information coming from? Who’s writing it? Is that person credible? Does that person belong to a group with certain ideologies? Who funds the website? Nowadays fact-checking is easy people! So many outlets have published tools to verify information. Really... there is only so much journalists can do. At some point, the ball is in your court.
Journalism in the US has been relatively “easy” in recent history. No kingpin sending his people to monitor you. No fishy unmarked boxes at your door (yet). However, we have lately been presented with a unique political situation. And for the first time in a long time, the news corps in the US has been forced to unite just as the Mexican or Colombian news corp united against drug dealers. Yes we make mistakes but we’ve learned to retract and correct the situation. We’ve learned to minimize mistakes and to not feel embarrassed (or too embarrassed) when we have to correct wrong information. Just like in every industry, there are bad apples, but again, most journalists are altruistic in nature. We do our part and now it’s time for you to do yours.