I laughed when I read that statement. It seemed entirely appropriate, considering we pretty much find ourselves in the position now of not knowing whether anything we read these days (on-line or off) is actually true.
And then I stopped. Why am I laughing? It’s really not all that funny . . .
I used to think that there was the ‘news’ and the ‘not news’. The reputable newspapers or the nightly TV news bulletins were for the real news. You got honest, unbiased reporting on what was happening locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Sources were cited and stories substantiated and verified. Journalists and their agencies could even be sued if they got their facts wrong!
Then there was the ‘not news’—the lightweight, fluffy, entertaining stuff—opinion pieces, TV shows, tabloids, magazines etc—some of whom did indeed market themselves as news-worthy but were, shall we say . . . a little less vigilant in their fact-checking. But that was okay, because these entities were in the business of selling stories, and we knew it. We could tell the difference.
I am not knocking the not-news by the way—I love my trashy magazines. I look at the pictures of the rich and (in)famous, scoff at their style choices (really, all her money and she is wearing that!); read about their trials and tribulations (I had no idea how hard is was to get a diamond-studded collar for your cat these days) and marvel at how celebrities manage to spend so much time ‘hooking up’ with each other in between jetting between continents, special appearances, award shows and the occasional making of a blockbuster movie.
(I see Brad Pitt has been a very busy boy over the last couple of weeks. Not only was he seen getting very flirty with Courtney Cox but he also seems to be in a hot and heavy relationship (and expecting a baby) with Kate Hudson—all the while fending of the ‘I’m sorry I made a mistake’ advances of Angelina Jolie! No wonder he is looking a little weary these days . . . )
But now we also have ‘fake news’ to contend with (ooops, sorry—I believe the expression is now ‘alternative facts‘) and the problem is we can no longer easily differentiate between legitimate reporting and something that has been totally fabricated. Fake news is not like not-news. Fake news is deliberately manufactured to look like credible journalism and then used to manipulate the public. Now, I am not entirely naive. It’s not like we (the public) have never been manipulated before, I’m pretty sure it happens a lot, but previously the purpetrators at least had the decency to look somewhat embarrassed when they were caught out, instead of just trying to feed us more crap.
It pisses me off (in case you hadn’t already guessed . . . ) and I am pleased to see that it seems to piss a lot of other people off too. Of course being pissed off about it doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s a step in the right direction. The very last thing we can afford to do is be complacent, or we might indeed one day be faced with our very own Orwellian future.
Anyway, I’ve had my little vent and so I’ll stop now. Mostly because there are plenty of other people out there already venting on exactly the same subject—but also because I have a day off today and I don’t particularly want to work myself up into a really bad temper this early in the day.
You really wouldn’t like me when I’m in a really bad temper . . .