6 min

Journalists' Goal for 2017: Produce Fake News

So it seems, at least at some media orgs.

The problem is that many journalists use their filter bubble on Media Twitter to share bogus stories, produced by allegedly acceptable media orgs. The Media Twitter echo chamber is part of the fake news problem because journalists don't hesitate to wonder if the story is true. It's easier to read a headline and share it because the assumption is that it must be true because source. This is lazy and irresponsible behavior for all journalists involved.

The only journalist that I like to read regularly is Glenn Greenwald who writes at TheIntercept.com. While at The Guardian, Greenwald published the Snowden documents about the NSA's surveillance. Greenwald and The Intercept investigate all sides of politics. Greenwald criticized Trump and Hillary. It appears that many journalists dislike Greenwald, probably because Greenwald is honest.

Sometimes, I think that journalists write stories for other journalists to enjoy. Greenwald is doing good work, since lefties and righties attack him.

"When a reporter sits down at the typewriter, he's nobody's friend." - quote by Theodore White

The Intercept is my favorite website to read for news and stories that are not locally-focused on Toledo. For local news and info, I rely on the Toledo Blade's local news RSS feed. For techy stuff, I peruse Hacker News. Then I access personal websites of people I enjoy reading, and these publishers cover a wide variety of interests that appeal to me, such as farming, programming, design, food, nature, and crocheting.

Over the past two months, the media/journalists have done a lot of whining about Facebook's fake news problem and fake news in general. But the allegedly acceptable media has its own fake news issues. The media should focus on its own houses first.

Now in 2017, it seems that if media orgs cannot beat the fake news producers for page views and shares, then maybe it's time to join them.

But first, shockingly, ironically, and hilariously, the Washington Post is telling people to stop using the phrase "fake news". Since the election, WaPo has become one of the biggest peddlers in fake news among the allegedly acceptable media orgs. WaPo is on my personal list of untrustworthy news sources.

This is an excellent article by Greenwald where Glenn criticizes WaPo for creating fake news, and he criticizes other media orgs for their complicit behavior in spreading fake news.

Rarely, if ever, do journalists and people who teach media criticize WaPo for its irresponsible actions.

And now BuzzFeed has been added to my list of untrustworthy news sources.

That BuzzFeed story has been at top of Mediagazer for a day or so.

According to the Mediagazer thread, a lot of people have responded on Twitter, and other media orgs have written their own stories, either about the documents' contents or about the irresponsible behavior of BuzzFeed, regarding journalistic ethics. The latter is good to see. At least some journalists have not crossed over completely.

Unverified? This BuzzFeed hack leads to more distrust of all media.

It appears that BuzzFeed is working from emotion only. It must have a massive disdain for Trump, and this has clouded its thinking. It appears that BuzzFeed's emotion has blocked its ability to remember ethics in journalism.

Journalists need to be less emotional and more logical. Less Dr. McCoy and more Mr. Spock.

Journalists worry that Trump will somehow remove the freedom of the press part of the First Amendment. First, that's fear-mongering, hyperbole, and sensationalism by the media.

But if we should worry about Trump deleting the First Amendment, then we should also worry about the reckless media.

Some of the criticism against BuzzFeed's lack of ethics:

BuzzFeed admitted that their story contained potentially fake news, but they published it anyway as a real story.

From another Jan 10, 2017 Poynter.org story:

Complicating the situation is the origin of the information: The dossier was compiled by a person — not identified in the story — who claims to be a former British intelligence official working for Trump's political opponents. The report also contains errors, as BuzzFeed notes — one company's name is misspelled, and one town is inaccurately described.

Here is BuzzFeed's justification for publishing a possible fake news story with my emphasis added:

Despite this, BuzzFeed's story justified publishing the information "so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the U.S. government."

Couldn't the same rationale be said about ALL of the fake news stories published over the past year-plus, regarding the 2016 U.S presidential election? I think BuzzFeed gave a reason to support the production of fake news: publish fiction and let the public decide whether its true.

Prior to the November 2016 election, BuzzFeed broke the story about the Macedonian teenagers producing fake news.

Their reasons for launching these sites are purely financial, according to the Macedonians with whom BuzzFeed News spoke. BuzzFeed News’ research also found that the most successful stories from these sites were nearly all false or misleading.

I guess BuzzFeed learned from the Macedonian teenagers. This week's irresponsible BuzzFeed story has probably brought a lot of traffic to BuzzFeed's web properties. The fake news story is a moneymaker for BuzzFeed. Success.

From the lawfareblog.com post mentioned above:

This cache of memos has been kicking around official Washington for several weeks now. We have had the document for a couple of weeks and have chosen, as have lots of other publications, not to publish it while the allegations within it remain unproven. First, we have no idea if any of these allegations are true. Yes, they are explosive; they are also entirely unsubstantiated, at least to our knowledge, at this stage. For this reason, even now, we are not going to discuss the specific allegations within the document.

Finally, yet another excellent bit of writing by Greenwald:

created on Jan 11, 2017

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