Our View: A new name for an old concept


November 1, 2017

Fake news, as a concept, has been around at least as long as we’ve had politicians.

But we used to call it something else: propaganda.

That our President was able to harness the term and continue to ride its wave, is disconcerting to people in the business of reporting news because it is so often an attack on media outlets which pride themselves on unbiased reporting.

But the President’s attacks are not groundless which is why they resonate with so many Americans.

Journalism schools have evolved over the past generation, in an attempt to equip young people with the tools they need to succeed.

And success for most journalists means simply ferreting out the truth in each assignment they take on, and then reporting their findings to as many people as are willing to look and listen.

The internet, more monstrous a media than anyone could have imagined, makes that difficult because it has created what is now called “the attention economy.”

There is much too much information available to news consumers and so the behemoths of media, which are no longer the national press, are continuously researching ways to capture and keep your attention for as long as possible - and this is no exaggeration - that time is measured in seconds, not minutes.

And so, most of the information these days is no longer designed to inform you, but more so to get and keep your attention as long as possible, and if you started reading this editorial online, chances are good that you didn’t make it this far.

As our President might say: Sad.

But there is good news in the chaos being sewn by the purveyors of what President Reagan called misinformation.

Any good journalist will admit to being equipped with a healthy bull-(expletive) detector.

Credible journalists know that they need to have sources who are reliable, and then they need to get a second reliable source prior to reporting what might be a controversial story.

Readers too should always be skeptical of what is reported and be open to the possibility that the reporter, the reporter’s source, and/or the media itself, has ulterior motives.

Our freedom depends on it.


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