Keeping Up with Fake News

by SVL on February 13, 2017 - 9:41am

From tweets to online articles, “fake news” seems to be the new trend in the journalistic industry. The favorite words of the American president refer to a spread of false information made by a website (or, nowadays, anybody) that classified it as “real news”. Unfortunately, even in 2017, keeping up with “what is fake and what is true” is still a problem, especially with the rise of social media. Now, let’s brace us for this new wave of fake news: “fake images”.

On February 12th, the Guardian wrote an article called “Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation fools Dominican newspaper”. In it, the online site reported that a Dominican newspaper, El Nacional, mistakenly caption a picture of Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live: “Donald Trump, president of the USA”. After their mistake, the website had to issue an apology to “anyone who felt affected by the publication of the photo”.

As I recall all my past projects and term papers, did I ever use a picture that was not associated with the right person or even, the right event? The thing is pictures are used to support your claims, but when it’s a “fake picture”, is your whole article/project/term paper fake too? And how can we find the original image of an edited one? Even after making sure to use the school’s library database, the slight possibility that the author might have made a mistake in their publication is still very possible.

As a student, most of the times, I try to verify my sources. Although, to be honest, rarely do I even bother checking whenever or not the image is “real”. I always assume that if a “big name” publication use it, then it must be true. Now and more than ever, the quote, “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet”, is the exact reflection of this new Digital era we are living in. The creation of Photoshop and other editing apps, as well as the small group of people reporting in war zones, makes it easier to play with images to make them be what we want them to be. For example, reducing the brightness can show a less happy and more hostile environment. The lesson here is that whatever you want to believe in and what you do not want to believe is your choice. Yet, keep an open mind that what you are reading or seeing can be inaccurate.

The article was written by the Associated Press which is an “independent, non-for-profit news cooperative” who reports all over the world to provide new stories. Plus, other news outlets such as Dailymail, Washington Post, and the Independent published an online article on the same story.

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/12/alec-baldwins-donald-trump-impersonation-fools-dominican-newspaper

Comments

This was a very earnest and thoughtful essay I really enjoyed reading. I realized share a lot of ideas with you. Although I do believe there could a a better use of ethical analysis to this issue. What exactly makes it bad that we have fake news? Some may debate that it isn's so much of an issue that we live in a western society bubble where everything is well and real world crisis are not shown at their real magnitude of the country's or population in danger's struggle. I know I may act as a devil's advocate at the moment but those are thoughts you should always have in mind while writing a controversial essay. It frustrated me to read this I can tell you but the lack of proof made me feel like this may not be that big of an issue since you only had one proof of it, where as you mentioned the apology for the mistake was made right away from El Nacional. I have to admit I personally always debate about this when I hear different news from different people but that may be just a side effect of at least 4 billion people navigating the web all at once. That's where the question of freedom of speech may also come in, without disregarding the issues of free use of photoshop!

I genuinely appreciate your comment and how passionate you are about this subject, but in my defence, I never intended to write an essay or a complete analysis on the issue of "fake news". My goal was to write a news summary explaining the mistake a newspaper did which is why there is only "one proof".

About the author

SVL

A Champlain College student slash brunch enthusiast who is currently studying in the General Social Sciences program.