Out with the old, in with the new — a common phrase which can easily be applied to the new year and, more importantly, new news.
It’s 2018, a time to start fresh, set goals and put some time into understanding what “fake news” is and how to distinguish it from real news. To truly understand what “fake news” means, it is important to also understand the background of the phrase and where it originated.
In 2017, the phrase “fake news” became just about as common as a simple “good morning.” President Donald Trump claimed to have coined the phrase but Merriam-Webster dictionary quickly interjected on Twitter, stating that “fake news” dates all the way back to the 19th century. Merriam-Webster dictionary currently defines “fake news” as a phrase that is “frequently used to describe a political story which is seen as damaging to an agency, entity or person.”
Fake news should be left behind in 2017. However, Trump recently announced he would present the “Fake News Awards” to mainstream media organizations who are “most corrupt and biased.” Many see this as a threat to a democratic society, including several republican senators and democrats, according to the Los Angeles Times. Just yesterday, Sen. Jeff Flake addressed Trump and his recent assaults on the mainstream media, calling them unwarranted.
According to the Washington Post, Trump posted his first tweet containing the phrase “fake news” Dec. 10, 2016. Since then, he has used the word “fake” more than 400 times since he was inaugurated, according to CNN.
Even with such a prevalent focus on “fake news,” it is important Americans do not let it get in the way of educating themselves on major national issues. Decisions that directly impact the way we live are made daily and staying up-to-date on relevant public matters will lead to a better informed, democratic society.
Choose a news organization that works for you, whether it be The New York Times, which tends to lend to more liberal-leaning news, or the Wall Street Journal, which might have a more conservative stance. Keep a close eye on what you are reading and be your own filter. But, this isn’t to say filter out anything that does not interest you. Filter through statements with hints of bias and attempt to stay focused on the facts. For anyone who prefers to do the fact-checking themselves, polifact.com and factcheck.org are legitimate fact-checking websites to help distinguish what is fact and fiction.
Additionally, the questions of who, what, when and where are generally answered similar, no matter the news organization a person decides to visit. However, it is important to remember that the “why” is most often the question a person must really take the time to investigate for themselves.
Even in a time where “fake news” is becoming increasingly popular, The Argonaut will continue to produce fair, accurate and timely news for the public throughout 2018 and for many years to come.