“Fake News” and the Legitimacy of the Press

Is news media losing their clout?

President+Trump+and+some+of+the+media+figures+he+has+collided+with.
President Trump and some of the media figures he has collided with.

President Trump and some of the media figures he has collided with.

President Trump and some of the media figures he has collided with.

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“Fake News”. Fake news was one the most commonly and widely used phrases of 2016 and continues to be in 2017. The term was largely popularized by President Donald Trump while he was campaigning during 2016 presidential election cycle. Throughout the span of his campaign Trump would use the term countless amounts of times. He would use it during interviews, speeches, rallies, and press conferences.

One of the most notable instances of Trump using the term to attack media outlets was during a early January, 2017 press conference at Trump Tower where he called BuzzFeed News “…a failing pile of garbage” and that they should apologize. The statement was in response to an article written by the internet media company that claimed to have found connections between Trump and Russia. Collusion between the two and it’s possible impacts on the 2016 presidential election were, and still are a great debate. The article’s claims did not match up with fact checks however. Trump then accused CNN of building up the story as well.

In response to Trump’s statement  CNN’s Jim Acosta  repeatedly tried to get the President-elect to allow him the opportunity to speak on the issue on behalf of CNN. “Since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question?” Trump replied, “No, not you, not you, your organization is terrible.” As the reporter persisted to get a chance to speak Trump told him to be quiet. “Don’t be rude” he repeated before pointing to Acosta, and saying rather sternly “you are fake news.” He then proceeded to point to another reporter in the audience, ignoring  Acosta’s pleading.

“Fake News”, especially as it is used in today’s context is nothing new. The term has to do with the ethics and factual distribution of information by media organizations. Yellow journalism refers to news with non legitimate claims supported by fictional facts or truths have been twisted to create misleading information.

The practices origin can be traced back to the 1890’s when news organizations would use yellow journalism to increase newspaper sales, using catchy misleading headlines. At the time yellow journalism was often used in efforts to push the United States into the Spanish-American War.

When the USS Maine sunk from an explosion headlines read, “Spanish Treachery!” and “Destruction of the War Ship Maine Was the Work of an Enemy! The New York Journal made it seem as if the vessel was attacked by a Spanish ship. In reality this was not the case.

Legitimacy in one definition is conformity to the law or to rules. A second definition: the ability to be defended with logic or justification, or validity. Analyzing both definitions there are several key concepts mentioned. Law, rules, logic, and justification. These concepts serve as basic standards and ethical values of journalist. They are precedents the press holds as their creed.

Two very important words reside in the second definition. Justification, and most controversial as of recent times, validity. Validity is very important in journalism as it is the job of the press to get to the core of any given issue in order to discover and relay the truth. They must also ensure that the claims they are making ore valid and in fact truthful. This creed however is sometimes violated despite the fact that the credibility and integrity of a journalist or a press institution may be ruined on grounds of fictional reporting.

Despite all of official and unofficial measures in place to keep media honest and factual the industry still seems to be under heavy growing scrutiny.  In and Axios.com article, an online flash poll on fake news for the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer says 62% of americans say they are falling out of favor with traditional media due to “fake news”. With the Trump presidency still less than a year old, who knows how this percentage will change. 

Visit link below for in depth analysis of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer poll:

https://www.axios.com/62-say-trust-in-traditional-media-has-decreased-due-to-fake-news-2508044120.html

 

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“Fake News” and the Legitimacy of the Press