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The News Media—Fair or Not? Paper #1

On this day in 2018 President Trump has announced he is handing out awards to news outlets that he considers unfair—The Fake News Awards.
Read the article below, recently written by Chris Tomlinson of the Houston Chronicle.
So for Paper #1 answer the following:
1. Tell me if you agree with his perspective, and why.
2. If you don’t agree, tell me why.
Only You Can Fight Fake News
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of deliberately false stories populated the internet within hours of the Las Vegas massacre.
As the death toll mounted, provocateurs used social media and online advertising to spread lies, some of which will linger for weeks, months or even years to come.
Why? What do the authors of these fictions hope to accomplish? Some people are just jerks that want to stir up trouble, others make money off the clicks and many are foreign agents deliberately trying to divide Americans to create political instability.
After all, foreign governments trying to meddle with American society don’t need to take a side or even make sense. After President Donald Trump blasted NFL players who are protesting racism, Russian agents tweeted messages both supporting and condemning the protesters, according to Republican Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoman who sits on the Homeland Security Committee.
Hopefully we’ll learn more about these trolls as Google, Facebook and Twitter agree to share the data they’ve collected from ads bought by suspected foreign agents during last year’s presidential election. Just as military commanders review the battlefield tactics of potential enemies, understanding our enemy’s information operations will help us boost our defenses.
When I say us, by the way, I mean you and me. The government is not allowed to shut down free speech under the First Amendment, thank goodness, so the consumers of news must learn to identify and ignore fake news.
Fake news, by the way, is not when a commentator has an opinion or analysis that you disagree with. Fake news is when the Islamic State claims that the Las Vegas shooter pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization. Or that the FBI is hiding the shooter’s true identity for some ridiculous reason. Or a Russian Facebook ad shows a black woman doing the shooting in Las Vegas.
The best advice is an adage I learned in elementary school. Consider the source.
A professional journalist’s reputation relies on providing the most complete version of events day after day. Good journalists provide attribution for the facts and quotes they provide so that readers can check their work. Professionals also publish corrections when they make mistakes.
Professional journalists are also public figures. We use our real names, work at locations with real street addresses and even provide email addresses and phone numbers for readers to contact us. We also sell our product, understanding the connection between our accuracy and our revenue.
The Houston Chronicle is profitable, by the way, and not going anywhere, which is another indication of reliability. Why would you believe a month-old Twitter account over a 116-year-old newspaper?
Last week, I wrote about how social media companies needed to wake up to their responsibility to edit ads that appear on their websites. I pointed out that newspapers know their credibility is tied not only to their journalism, but also to their advertising.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced Monday that the company would hire 1,000 more reviewers to improve the quality of the ads displayed on customers’ pages. Hopefully more companies will follow suit and congressional action will not be required.
RELATED: Loss of internet data privacy should concern business, consumers
The ultimate responsibility for what ideas enter our minds, though, rests with us. We need to maintain a healthy diet of fact-based reporting, informed commentary and not indulge those who would appeal to the darker demons of human nature.
Keeping ourselves better informed might be the most patriotic thing an American can do right now.

Last Updated on January 21, 2018

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