Perspectives

Is “Fake News” an Accurate Description of Today’s Media Landscape?


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“Fake News” is a term that does not have one definite meaning. Its definition is fluid depending on who is using it to describe news coverage, says an assembled team of experts.
Spectrum brought together a veteran journalist, a scholar in the fields of communication and education, and a media executive with 30 years of experience in public broadcasting to dissect the topic of “Fake News” and what it means.
Allison Hunter is currently the Editor-In-Chief of WOUB News. Over her career she has had experience in both commercial and public broadcasting. She has produced award-winning news programming in the major markets of Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as the smaller markets of Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hunter also currently co-hosts a news related podcast #457SEO.
Dr. Scott Titsworth has been the Dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University since 2009. The Scripps College consists of the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism, the School of Media Arts and Studies, the School of Visual Communication, the School of Communication Studies and the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems.
Dr. Titsworth has an international reputation as a top scholar in the area of classroom communication effectiveness. He also hosts a nationally distributed podcast called “Teaching Matters” where he examines the unique needs of students in the 21st Century and the “Technological Age.”
Mark Brewer is the General Manager of WOUB Public Media. He is an experienced media executive with over 30 years in public broadcasting in Ohio, Minnesota, and Texas. He currently manages six public radio stations, six public television stations, social media, and an online news service.
All agree that the term “Fake News” is used by those who want to denigrate the news product either by claiming that the “event” never happened or that news reports have the facts wrong – thereby leading to a mistaken public impression.
If the term only was used to describe mainstream media, the panel, concurs that it would be easier to counteract the idea of falsity with greater media transparency and openness. However, the problem of “Fake News” is exacerbated by social media and the myriad of bots, trolls, fake news sites dedicated to distributing false reports.
In short, legitimate news is diluted and polluted by truly fake news that is generated by those who wish to advance a position or destroy someone else’s position.
“Fake News” needs to be counteracted by accurate reporting and complete transparency on how a story is resourced and produced. Openness counteracts the assertion of falsity, the panel says.