fact-checking and fake news

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538 says that fact-checking won't save us from fake news, and Brooke Borel (author of The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking) notes the following:

Fact-checking politicians' statements or articles after they've published -- a close relative of the type of fact-checking that goes on behind the scenes in journalism -- has been instrumental in holding politicians accountable. I know what fact-checking can do, and how important it is. But to combat fake news, it's simply not enough.

I'm as distressed as any journalist is to watch fake news spread, even as available facts can disprove it. But if facts don't matter, what does? The history of news -- and the power structures that control its spread and consumption -- may offer clues on how to wrangle fake news in a way that fact-checking alone can't.

Step one is to consider that fake news may be a fight not over truth, but power, according to Mike Ananny, a media scholar at the University of Southern California.

She asks, "So how can we strip power from fake news? How do we prevent the next Pizzagate?" Andrew Pettegree, a history professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland suggests that media outlets' efforts "to debunk fake news [...] won't work, particularly for readers who have already decided that the traditional press is fake news -- and, fair or not, partisan." He suggests that "the news should stop trying so hard to entertain:"

Political reporting could improve by refusing to force false balance -- an attempt at impartiality and objectivity that can backfire. Science reporters have known this for a long time: Stories about vaccines or climate change shouldn't give equal space to deniers who think that vaccines cause autism or that climate change is a hoax.

Eliminating their false equivalency and bothsiderism would indeed be a substantial improvement.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 4, 2017 7:29 AM.

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