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Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

Since when wasn't news fake? At what point did people think we weren't making it up from the start anyway?


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

First, Pie is wrong about Twitter. Twitter didn't "break" the news of Fidel Castro's death; that news still came from official sources and mainstream media who then distributed it on Twitter - and elsewhere - and it was then picked up by everyone else. You can't have news on Twitter without news organizations. (Though - and this is one of the great things about Twitter - sometimes news is "broken" there from sources on the ground who aren't professional journalists but eyewitnesses or actual news subjects.)

Second, and is the most important point: There is a real danger in confusing bad journalism with "fake news." I see a lot of people doing this, including Glenn Greenwald, who is usually one of the best media commentators out there. Yes, much of what constitutes "news" in the media, broadly, is constructed; it consists of public relations statements, photo opportunities, pseudo-events such as press conferences and groundbreakings, and other such somesuch. But badly executed journalism - from wasting time on pseudo-events to blowing the run-up to the Iraq War - is not the same as fake news. It's simply real news utterly bungled by media professionals. Fake news, on the other hand, is "news" made up out of whole cloth - for the very purpose of deception to make money and/or reach political ends. It is fiction. It's not just badly done news; there is no way to get it right.

Let's not allow anyone to confuse the two, creating some sort of false equivalency between imperfect journalism and perfected propaganda that exploits ideologically fervent folks prone to conspiracy theory who frankly aren't that bright. (By the way, there is fake news on the left, too; I see it in my Facebook feed all the time. But it is far less abundant than on the right, and far less outrageous.) Doing so only delegitimizes all journalism, but particularly journalism certain people - like those who consume fake news, or their associates in places like the White House - don't like even if (or because) it tells the truth.


Posted on December 5, 2016

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