There have been a lot of talks about fake news and alternative news and how they are damaging the fabric of society.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently has been quoted as saying “fake news is killing people’s minds”.
Source: The Daily Telegraph
These charges against fake news and alternative news have been leveled mostly by the mainstream media whose saw their voice diminished as they no longer able to control what are the important and relevant news of the day.
Fake news have been blamed for the recent loss of Democratic US Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, despite mainstream polls showing her in constant lead over her Republican rival, Donald Trump.
Yet, here we are in 2017 and Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America and Hillary Clinton has been consigned to wandering the forest. If we had one word to sum it up in Trump’s Twitter fashion, “Sad.”
The one fake news reported by the mainstream media where this kind of news can harm the public is the PizzaGate incident where it was reported that Hillary Clinton was connected to running a human trafficking child sex ring at a pizza parlour called Comet Ping Pong.
As a result of the fake news, a concerned citizen by the name of Edgar Maddison Welch, decided to investigate by taking matters into his own hands and shoot up the pizza joint until he was arrested by the police without incident. Luckily no one was hurt.
Because of this one incident, there were outcries by some people against fake news that were posted on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Yahoo! and Twitter. These people demanded that the social media giants do more to combat fakes news by labeling as such or deleting them.
However despite the good intentions of these social media giants, nothing they do will help because it’s the nature of the Internet and people desire to confirm their beliefs that they will seek alternatives media to validate them. In Psychology, this theory is called “confirmation bias” also known as “confirmatory bias” or “myside bais.”
Confirmation bias used to be more difficult to utter in public, especially the more extreme ones, and people who have confirmation bias usually have to keep their thoughts in check for fear of being labelled a kook or racist, but this has all changed.
Now they can easily find many people on the Internet that subscribe to their bias and are no longer afraid to speak out.
The mainstream media seems to be treating this as a new phenomenon, but it’s not. Anyone who’s read “The National Enquirer”, “The Examiner” or “Globe” knows that this type of news has been around for a long time. The only problem is that this tabloid journalism has been magnified by the power of the Internet.
This leads us back to the question, “Who’s Winning?” Obviously it’s not mainstream media because some have lost their way of being a true source for unbiased news and have been exposed for their lack of integrity.
Instead of reporting the news, mainstream media have become more politicized and the majority of the population are not stupid. Yes, there will always be fools who are easily taken for a ride, but the majority of the population are not.
Let’s take the recent examples of how The Toronto Star reporting of Donald Trump’s presidency; they are not fans of his that’s for sure. It seems like every other day, they say how bad Trump is and how much wrong he is doing.
To Trump supporters they see it as him being unfairly attacked by the mainstream media.
And as a result, mainstream media has alienated them to the point where they see that there is alternative news out there.
Instead of just going to their favourite mainstream news, people are also going to alternative news that provides them with a different point-of-view.
At the same time, The Toronto Star is crying about how journalism is important, that it provides value and is on the verge of dying and we have to do something about it.
It would not surprise us if they called on the government to provide public funding to support the mainstream media.
The Toronto Star can still be truly relevant and an authoritative voice if they continue to report in a fashion that is not bias.
If reporting by The Toronto Star continues for Trump in the same fashion that they were done on the late mayor, Rob Ford, then the paper will be consigned to mainstream fake news.
Here are examples of reporting that The Toronto Star have done that gave credibility to their voice, police accountability, business bad practices, holding government accountable without being too left or right leaning.
Even though we have singled out The Toronto Star, this applies to all mainstream media, from The Globe and Mail to National Post.
At the end of the day, readers can easily see articles where the tinge of bias rears its ugly head and they will avoid and dismiss such news.
By being trusted, mainstream media can leverage their community to build other businesses to supplement the lost revenues from the freemium model that is competing against them.
No one would fault mainstream media for using their trust to build revenues to support their news industry as long as they are forthright about it.
Because even if it seems that public opinion is blowing one way or another, mainstream media should not be seduced by it and do what is right.
There are few things that we agree with President Trump, but one that we do is that he is absolutely right about the silent majority. We are out there and we are sick and tired of the games that are being played out to pander to left or right base.