The Gatepost Editorial: Trust, but verify

Americans distrust of the media is at an all-time high.

According to a recent poll from Monmouth University, 83 percent of Americans believe outside groups and organizations are trying to get news organizations to report on fake stories that highlight false narratives. 

Given the developments over the last several days, that statistic may not be all that surprising to you.   

This week, a video published by Deadspin surfaced on the web showing a number of Sinclair Broadcast Group news anchors all repeating a scripted message that read like a torn out page of a White House press release. 

“But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media,” read a portion of the script.

While, on the surface, the message seemed moral – in the clip, all the anchors decry the dangers of one-sided and biased news reporting – internally many of the news anchors were uncomfortable reading the script, but were forced to by an upper management team that has a history of leaning to the right, according to a report from CNN.

In response to the backlash, President Donald Trump tweeted, “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”

In an age when our own president uses his Twitter to attack news sources that publish accurate stories that cast him in a negative light but glorifies those that peddle his agenda, it makes sense why people are skeptical to trust any news source.

But we at The Gatepost believe it is now more important than ever that news readers do their due diligence in becoming more media literate and cognizant of the rhetoric being thrown around by members of both major political parties.

Yes, fake news is a rampant problem that has proliferated due to the rise of the internet and social media, but not every story that goes against one’s set of beliefs can be categorized as fake news despite what our president wants to believe.

It is essential for every person to look at a wide breadth of news sources – if you stick to one news source for all of your content, you will remain ignorant within that one bias bubble. Whether you agree with the narrative spin being produced, it is important to know every side of the story.

People who are unwilling to research their news and trust an algorithm on Facebook to show them news stories are the most susceptible to believing fake news when it actually occurs. We urge you to be smart consumers of content.

It’s OK to trust sources where you regularly get your news, but as the old adage goes – trust, but verify.

If you are unsure of how to identify fake news stories when you see them, stop by The Gatepost’s Fake News Game Show on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Room.


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