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Chamber Blog: Fake News and You

by Brian Scott-Smith

“So, what’s ‘Fake News’ got to do with me?” I hear you say… a lot!

More and more we hear not only from the political arena but from other industries on the rise of ‘fake news.’

It’s not a new phenomenon, it’s years old and in fact it’s just using a new name.

Call it satire, spoof or propaganda, it’s out there and we must be aware of.

I work in the media industry and am a professional journalist, trained to get to the truth of a story and dig for facts and checks sources and make sure that what I am reporting is real.

But in this fast-paced world we live in of ‘on all the time’ media, be it cable TV news, the Internet or social media it’s becoming a minefield for both professionals and citizens.

Too quickly these days we take on ‘face value’ what we see on social media.

The Facebook effect of commenting and sharing stories and news is the new norm and we all do it.

Regardless of our political stance or opinions we’re not stopping ourselves from hitting that ‘share’ button which then leads to ‘us’ spreading the ‘fake news’ even further.

We’ve stopped using our ‘critical thinking’ skills and that’s the problem.

Even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has said he and Facebook are going to try and combat the rise of ‘Fake News’, but at what cost?

There is genuine satire and spoof news out there that is harmless and fun.

The Onion News Network, is one such organization, that for years has paid writers to create ‘fake news’ or ‘satire’ and they do it very well and if you use your intelligence you can work out very quickly it’s there for fun.

But there is an alarming rise in other ‘supposed’ news sites that have sprung up lately, purporting to be real and spreading false information and stories and sadly too many of us are falling victim to them.

They have convincing names and look like ‘real’ news sites, but if you do some digging, they’re not.

If you want real news then the mainstream media is still a good source to get that from, be that NPR or TV news from the major networks.

But if you’re a social media junkie who gets all your news from there, and it’s an increasing audience that’s doing this, then you need to stop yourself and ask some serious questions of the articles and stories you’re sharing and their credibility.

Why? Because it says a lot about you, your ethics and your values and why you’ve stopped asking questions.

You need to be checking whether stories and articles you’re posting or reposting are from real organizations and yes, that takes time to do.

If we want to live in a democracy that gives us these freedom’s, then we all have a responsibility to safeguard what we’ve been given.

If you think that just clicking a mouse and sharing a story isn’t important, then you’re wrong!

As a civilization, we have more of a voice now than ever before in history, which means our actions ‘speak words’

Don’t just leave it to the ‘real media’ to fight this battle

We’re in this together!


Brian Scott-Smith is a Chamber member and qualified TV and radio broadcast journalist and producer with over 16 years of experience working in the media and news industry for organizations, such as the BBC, PBS and NPR. He is also a media trainer and based in Connecticut.  More at BrianScottSmith.com.