Monthly Archives: February 2017

What is Fake News anyway?

I’ve become increasingly concerned the last few weeks about the number of high profile people from Jeremy Corbyn to Newsnight presenters using Trump’s term “Fake News” to refer to false or misleading news stories. In a way I think using it this way is much more dangerous than Trump using it himself, because it causes confusion and legitimises his use of the phrase. In general when Trump uses it, it’s to attempt to discredit a news story (or an entire organisation) that’s true but doesn’t fit his agenda. He’s certainly not trying to address what is a genuine widespread problem of news outlets producing news stories that are either intentionally misleading, or just plain made up. The worst offenders of this are actually outlets like the Daily Express and the Daily Mail who are generally sympathetic to politicians like Trump, and are actually the kind of outlets that have a big part to play in the success of people like Farage and Trump, by creating in many people’s minds a view of the world which is quite different to reality. They do this by systematically and intentionally misleading their readers. This is far from a new problem, but sadly it’s a problem that it suddenly seems fashionable to highlight using a buzzphrase coined by a man who seems to want to kill off genuine journalism, and make up things that are convenient to his agenda and fit the worldview of his supporters.

So I think anyone who genuinely wants to address the issue of misleading news stories, needs to stop using the term “Fake News” to talk about it, right now.