The Importance of Journalism in the Era of Fake News

By Brianna Williams—Asst. News Editor

The term “fake news” used to be a sort of oxymoron. A story in the newspaper was factual, unbiased, and one of the best ways to get information. People trusted their news outlets, and hearing the words “fake” and “news” together probably would have been rare, or just a way to describe a news story on intentionally false outlets like The Onion. Within the past few years, however, fake news has become a reality in America, and a frightening one at that.

I’ve come to love journalism because of its great importance in our world. The people have a right to know what is happening in their city, their state, their country, and the world surrounding them, and journalism gives us this knowledge. So many small aspects of our lives are shaped by journalism: to whom we give our business, how we vote, how we form opinions on issues and people. Furthermore, journalism is a means to hold those in power accountable, and a means to share with and inform its readers. The news is such an incredibly important source of checks and balances. Without news journalism, people are unable to hold those in power—from the principal of a small school in the suburbs, to our country’s president— accountable. If this source of great information becomes a source of doubt and distrust, I believe there is a greater issue approaching that we are on the cusp of.

Unfortunately, fake news is not a fake issue–it has derived from various instances in which information found in the news was false, things were misrepresented, and journalists failed to maintain integrity. The danger we are in during this era of fake news, however, is the term’s popularized use for journalism that isn’t actually fake. People can now easily claim “fake news” when the article states something they do not wish to be true about their world, the people around them, or themselves. In order to maintain the people’s right to know what is happening in the world, we must discern carefully what is and is not fake in order to avoid mislabeling the truth and pitting the people against their one source of knowledge.

Both sides of the issue have a responsibility to prevent journalism from losing its significance: journalism as an industry must work to maintain unbiased and factual information, and the people must work to double check their sources, gather what information is correct, and stop believing every Facebook and Twitter post they see.

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