FROM THE GUARDIAN: “”Fake News Machine research comes amid increasing concern about hacking elections and the ways that fake news on social media has manipulated voters.””
Everyone from the president on down should know there is a new rule: If you don’t have the proof, you don’t get the pudding.
It is imperative that honest news gatherers — be they liberal, conservative, one person hunched over a laptop or an international conglomerate in a skyscraper — defend themselves as an institution with its own formal and informal checks and balances on other American institutions, most notably government and business.
The news media needs a large-scale, unified outreach campaign to re-establish the respect and credibility it desperately needs. The campaign should focus on several goals.
First, explain to every American why the First Amendment and freedom of the press are essential in a thriving democracy along with teaching the difference between real news and fake news. Also, point out the necessity for government transparency, accessibility and accountability. (One rough idea: billboards showing doors to a meeting room closed with a “NO ENTRY” sign on the door knob. The caption reads: “What is the government doing behind closed doors? A free people need a free press.”)
Today’s professional journalists have solid educations; understand their subject matter; seek out multiple, reliable sources; fact check; accept oversight from experienced supervisors and will correct mistakes.
Furthermore, freedom of the press is worthless if not tied inextricably to an ethical and moral obligation to be accurate and truthful.
So, second, the industry needs to identify reporters and news organizations that adhere to a code of ethics and professional standards as outlined by several news associations and organizations, displaying such designations just as other professionals (i.e. CPAs) do.
Third, the industry should devise a basic, agreed-upon industry-wide “Reality Check” pointing out accuracy hits and misses, as best as can be determined. This should focus on national, state and local officials and, importantly, the news media itself.
Also, sources, from the president on down, should know there is a new rule: If you don’t have the proof, you don’t get the pudding. (Back it up or it won’t be published or aired or it will be tagged as false.)
Overall, though, journalists will be most influential in bolstering their image by generating a steady flow of accurate stories that are fair to everyone yet fearful of no one.