A deepdive into ‘fake news’ and how readers can spot when they’re being given false information
The Gallup and Knight Foundation polled 20,000 Americans in August regarding news media biases and trust. This study found that 46% of Americans believe the media are biased, with over 80% believing the media is to blame for today’s political divide.
Much of this mistrust stems from the fear of being misinformed, with 74% of Americans reported by Gallup and Knight believing misinformation to be the leading issue with news today. The true number of misinformation being presented by the media does not support this however.
A study conducted by Science Advance following the 2016 elections revealed that on average people consume between five to 10 minutes of news media daily, with misinformation accounting for only about a minute of that time.
“Turning to TV, there are no objectively fake news stations of the sort that exist online, i.e., that are exclusively or near exclusively devoted to disseminating deliberate falsehoods while masquerading as legitimate news organizations,” Science Advance stated. “Nonetheless, misinformation construed more broadly can also manifest itself in regular news programming in the form of selective attention, framing, “spin,” false equivalence and other forms of bias.”
False information makes up only a fragment of consumer’s time, but its effects continue to create distrust between viewers and their news each passing year. While the reasoning for this mistrust remains to be observed, one important thing readers can do to avoid being misinformed on news is by being aware of the tactics.
For those hoping to better gage where they can find less biased news, here’s how readers can spot the trends and tricks being used today.
What is “fake news”?
As defined by Webwise, “fake news”, or false information, is stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.
With the emphasis being on news, this could range from a reporter’s negligence to fact check to a newsroom purposely running a politically charged headline.
False information can be presented in a number of ways that may otherwise be undetectable if a reader has no reason to suspect the writer may be misinforming them. Referencing the Public Library, methods considered to be false information include (in order by severity):