Fake News Is A Meaningless Term, And Our Obsession Over It Continues To Harm Actual News

from the forget-fake-news dept

Many people forget now, but in the wake of the 2016 election, it was mainly those opposed to Donald Trump who were screaming about “fake news.” They wanted an explanation for what they believed was impossible — and one thing that many, especially in the journalism field focused on, were the made up stories that got shared wildly on Facebook. At the time, we warned that nothing good would come from so many people blaming “fake news” for the election, and I think it’s fair to say we were correct on that. President Trump quickly co-opted the phrase and turned it into a mantra directed at any news story about him or his administration that he didn’t like.

And, of course, the term was always meaningless. It encompassed such a broad spectrum of things — from completely made up stories, to stories with bad sourcing or an error, to stories that were spun in a way people didn’t like or found misleading, to stories with a minor mistake, to just stories someone didn’t like. But each of those is very, very different, and the way that different news organizations respond to these issues can be very different as well. For example, professional publications that make mistakes will publish corrections when they discover they’ve made an error. Sometimes they don’t do so well, and they don’t always do a very good job of publicizing the correction — but they do strive to get things right. That’s different than publications that simply put up purely fake stuff, just for the hell of it. And there really aren’t that many such sites. But by lumping them all in as fake news, people start to blur the distinctions, and think that basically everyone is just making shit up all the time.

That culminates in a new report claiming (though I question the methodology on this…) that 72% of Americans surveyed believe that traditional news sources “report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading.” The breakdown by political affiliation is that 53% of Democrats think this happens “a lot” or “sometimes,” 79% of Independents, and 92% of Republicans. Of course, if you dug into the numbers, I’m guessing that the Democrats would point to Fox News as their proof, while the Republicans would point to MSNBC, CNN and maybe the NY Times/Washington Post.

Of course, most of this is silly. Some of it is the fact that the vast majority of news consumers don’t know the difference between the hard news divisions of these news organizations and the “commentary” side of these organizations, with the latter being more in the entertainment, bomb throwing side of things, and who stake out ridiculous positions because that’s what they’re paid to do. The actual news orgs all do actually tend to want to do good reporting. They aren’t always good at that — in fact, they’re often bad at it. But that’s very, very different than deliberately spreading “fakes, false or purposely misleading” news.

However, simply lumping mistakes or a spin you dislike on coverage as “fake news” doesn’t help. It just makes things more ridiculous and gets people up in arms more. And, again, just as we predicted, with the push to clamp down on “fake news,” the end result is actually suppressing news. Facebook — which was the main target of the whining from the anti-Trump world on “fake news” — basically threw up its hands and said it would decrease all the news that people saw. And that means that every publication that was heavily relying on Facebook for traffic (i.e., nearly every publications except for us at Techdirt who ignored Facebook), is now getting slammed.

Slate tried to get news orgs to talk about how much their Facebook traffic dropped and no one would talk, so it revealed its own traffic decline from Facebook, dropping from 28 million clicks in January 2017 (about 1/3 of its total traffic) down to less than 4 million in May 2018 (now representing 11% of its traffic) — a drop of 87%. The site claims Facebook traffic has dropped 55% alone in 2018. Again, we deliberately avoided “playing the Facebook game” over the last decade, so the site has never been a significant source of traffic. However, for comparison purposes, I checked, and Facebook represented 2.7% of our own traffic in January of 2017, and 2.4% of our traffic in May of 2018 — basically no different, but also close to a rounding error.

But really, what this comes down to is that the whole “fake news” claim has always been silly and the calls to “do something” about fake news have really only served to make things worse. Using such a non-descriptive term has given lots and lots of people an excuse to mock or ignore any news or news organizations they dislike. And it’s given an excuse to Facebook to step back from the news business altogether. None of that makes the public better news consumers or more media literate. All it does is keep people in their silos getting angry at each other.

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Comments on “Fake News Is A Meaningless Term, And Our Obsession Over It Continues To Harm Actual News”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Et tu Techdirt

This will be censored by those that disagree, by tagging as a troll.

I believe techdirt is guilty of fake news. They don’t write articles that are incorrect, but they choose their articles carefully. They attack the mistakes of the right, while ignoring the most mistakes of the left. There is the occasional exception, but they choose the exception carefully. This allows them to claim that they are even sided, but really it’s not even close.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Et tu Techdirt

You "literally" said Techdirt was as slanted as fox news.

Holy shit, you actually lied when everyone can see what I literally, actually posted a couple of comments up—which was this:

That’s not writing lies, that’s having an editorial direction. Literally every news publication does that, even Fox News.

Nowhere in that sentence do I so much as imply that Techdirt is as slanted/biased as Fox News. Even if I did, so what? Techdirt has an editorial bias; so does every other outlet for news and journalism. Bias is not just about nakedly partisan political leanings; it is about choosing which facts to report, which stories to publish, which leads to follow.

A tech-oriented blog is obviously going to lean towards reporting facts that involve technology and issues surrounding it (see: Free Speech issues). A tech blog that believes in principles like Network Neutrality will obviously lean toward showing why NN is a good thing. A tech blog that is, by and large, an editorial page instead of a “pure journalism” outlet will obviously show off more bias by way of opinionated language. If you cannot deal with Techdirt having even a semblance of bias, go read something else.

lx14e says:

Re: Re: FakeNews=Spin

  • “But really, what this comes down to is that the whole “fake news” claim has always been silly…” (MM)

    “News” is supposed to be “Fact” — not opinion, hearsay, or spin.

    ‘Fake News’ is opinion, hearsay, and spin. It manifestly exists in abundance… in most U.S. media & journalism outlets.

    No honest, intelligent person can carefully view the major TV news programs nor carefully read major newspaper without discerning extensive opinion/spin in ostensibly straight news reporting. Selection & “framing” of those news stories is a major source of bias. FakeNews is overwhelming if one is generally objective in observing American journalism.

    * “And, of course, the {FakeNews} term was always meaningless. It encompassed such a broad spectrum of things…”

    …No, it’s a rather useful term that most people understand.
    “Broad spectrum” terms flood our language and EVERYBODY uses them.

    Do you also object to general terms like ‘food”, ‘music’, ‘automobiles’, ‘cats’, ‘news’ — because they are too imprecise and thus “meaningless” ?

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: FakeNews=Spin

No. “Spin” is how factual news is presented to slant opinion of that fact to what the writer (or editor) want.

Up until the advent of the facebook zombies, “fake news” was just … “newspeak” for what had been previously called “propaganda”. Along the lines of incorrectly using the word “optics” when you mean “appearances”.

The social media explosion has given us “real fake news”, in that any idiot can make up a story, no matter how nonsensical, and it will go viral to the point that people who should know better believe it.

Short of a stock ticker, you’re simply not going to find unbiased, unslanted, or unspun reports. Everyone has a bias, even (especially?) reporters, and it WILL be apparent even if only in phrasing.


Re: Re: Et tu Techdirt

That’s not writing lies,

Sure it is. It’s distorting reality. You choose what to include and what to exclude. You intentionally give people a false impression based on what your pre-set editorial narrative is.

Sticking up for this kind of nonsense does no one any credit.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Et tu Techdirt

You choose what to include and what to exclude.

Even the journalistic outfits closest to appearing “unbiased” do that. They do it every day. They simply cannot publish every story and every detail of the stories they do publish. Someone has to decide what stories and what details get reported. Bias is inevitable and unavoidable; what matters, then, is whether the person in charge of those decisions can keep their own biases in check.

As has been pointed out, Techdirt is not in the business of coddling liberals/Democrats while lambasting conservatives/Republicans without limit. When someone of either party makes a bad decision in re: the fields of interest that Techdirt covers, Techdirt says so. If you can prove Techdirt holds a true partisan bias that gives one party a pass and the other party a metaphorical trip to the guillotine, by all means: Go for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Et tu

TD has an obvious editorial bias – against bad laws, for free speech, against stupid politicians, for innovation.

TD does and continues to shame the left and the right for ass decisions and poor actions.

If you see one side getting slammed more than the other, you might want to run your own tally and see how all the candidates stack up. (And then publish the results at your (completely fair) news site.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Et tu

Techdirt is “for” innovation? From my view, that appears to be the opposite of the truth. Authors of original works and inventors are undeniable innovators, and copyright and patent law protects them and their ownership of their own works. Techdirt is for neither copyrights or patents, and these are the basic tools that innovators need to succeed. Instead, they promote “free” products that only well capitalized companies can afford (corporatism). Techdirt is decidedly against innovators, from my view.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Et tu

So you agree with me, but you don’t like how I phrased it. That is, that Techdirt’s opinions are flawed and counterproductive, and hurts innovators (like me). You agree that the notion that Techdirt is “for” innovation is in fact fake news, that is, the opposite of the truth being presented publicly as truth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Et tu

Would you consider actually debating the points I’ve made, or is such discussion irrelevant and immaterial to your superior world view? Honestly, calling people you disagree with childish as a strategy to defend your position seems very disingenuous. However, it is typical for the left, like “ANTIFA” beating down speech they don’t agree with, and Techdirt being “for” innovation while simultaneously advocating for the elimination of legal support for innovators (copyrights and patents). How is it possible to be “for” innovation and simultaneously “against” innovators? Or is this too childish a question for you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Ok, I see. No debate about actual contradictions in your position. You have no defense regarding Techdirt’s anti-patent anti-copyright articles and rhetoric. You want to weaken or destroy American rights for American innovators. That is clear and shown repeatedly in your articles and comments. And you have no explanation about how Techdirt can possibly for FOR innovation while simultaneously being AGAINST innovators. Got it. I love you guys, honestly, this next election coming is going to be GREAT! All your arguments will come full circle, and Americans will make American even MORE GREAT by understanding more clearly how ridiculous your arguments are. Act like a flaming liberal, lose all your power, forever. Great! Keep it up!

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

No debate about actual contradictions in your position.

What contradictions?

You have no defense regarding Techdirt’s anti-patent anti-copyright articles and rhetoric.

We have nearly 70,000 posts on the site. We do frequently highlight PROBLEMS WITH and ABUSE OF the patent and copyright system. Neither makes us "anti-patent" or "anti-coyright," though we clearly believe the system, as currently designed, does serious damage to innovation, creativity and speech. We have supported that in those articles with tons of details. You should try reading them.

You want to weaken or destroy American rights for American innovators.

No, quite the opposite. We have pointed out, repeatedly, how the patent system is actually used to harm innovators. Patent trolls destroy actual innovators while having done nothing to advance the public’s benefit all the time. We wish to help actual innovators.

And you have no explanation about how Techdirt can possibly for FOR innovation while simultaneously being AGAINST innovators.

We’re not against innovators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Well, I think you would agree with me about the historical intent of the patent and copyright system, wouldn’t you? The intent was to reward and promote innovation and innovators, yes? And I think you would agree that the US leads the world in innovation, yes? So perhaps it is possible that the intent of the system and the results of the system are pro-innovation, and the cases you focus all your attention on are the outlayers and not typical or indicative of the success of the copyright/patent system as a whole. Would you concede that you give little attention in your articles (and planted comments) of the positive effect of the patent/copyright system? Would you admit to any slant at all, or do you see yourself as a totally objective reporter? Do you have any specific changes that you advocate that would actually help innovators? Or do you have a chant like the “Abolish ICE” initiative, another example of criticism without advancing any credible alternative. If you are objective, can you express some of what you think is good about the copyright and patent system, and specifically what you would do to improve it?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

We have many posts on the site answering all of your questions. In particular, I’ve listed out (multiple times) a list of improvements we should make to the patent system. I have also suggested numerous ways to improve on the copyright system. In both cases, the improvements I suggest are designed to bring the system into alignment with the goals.

As for you claim of correlation, as many others have pointed out, correlation is not causation. Indeed, if you look at the history of how these things work, the great bursts of creativity and inventiveness PRE-DATES the big changes to both the copyright system and the patent system. THe changes came afterwards as some sought to exploit the system.

Our concern now is that it is clearly damaging both creativity and innovation.

Again, all this has been explained in great detail in posts.

If you want an individual consultation in which I go over this and answer all your questions, feel free to hire us for some consulting.

(For what it’s worth, the fact that you continually slip in nonsense like "planted comments" suggests that you are nothing more than a troll — which is why I get the feeling you have no interest in an actual discussion on this. Your comments to others support this. I have discussed this enough with you. If you’d like more, be a good capitalist and hire us.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Ok, Mike, I get your point – you probably need the money to defend yourself against the “reasonable reader” argument being put forth in your case, and (in addition) you are quite a celebrity in your leftist social circles – appearing with Chelsea and all. How do you think the soon to be confirmed Justice Kavanaugh will rule concerning this argument (likely he will see it eventually)? Personally, I think the crazy left-wing liberal opinions of judges that protect the kind of defamation you practice will soon be put to an end, and you (and your Techdirt shills) will be a major reason why. I don’t think money will help you, though, because wrong is still wrong, even after money has it’s say.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

No, I’m eating popcorn and watching the entertainment. I heard a rumor (maybe it was a dream) that Trump asked every potential SCOTUS nominee about ending the scourge of defamation on the Internet (it’s a hot-button issue for POTUS), and Brett was the one with the best answer. You’ll probably hear about it in his confirmation hearing (just a guess). I’ll be there in the crowd eating popcorn, check it out. 555

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

Does any of that actually address the point that it can’t be proven who invented email?

If you can’t substantiate that, regardless of where the evidence swings (since the judge said it can’t be proven) you’re pretty much up shit creek without a paddle.

As for your wet dream about ending defamation, insults is how Trump gets his clout. End that and you take away the bulk of his bargaining power, never mind when you encouraged violence against your political opponents. Nice going, knuckle-dragger.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

“Knuckle-dragger”, I will take that like a badge of honor, like “deplorable”. Good for you to risk using colorful imagery as a replacement for an actual argument. On the other hand, it didn’t work out so well for Hillary (I hear she’s running again), but maybe you will do better. “Knuckle-dragger” indeed, why not Hairy Knuckle Dragger, you “at a loss for an actual idea” argumentative moron.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I’m pro-copyright and pro-patent. Artists and inventors should absolutely be able to profit from their creations. However, the creation belongs to the world as soon as it’s released to the world. That’s something that many current rightsholders seem to forget. Copyrights and patents are just a deal the Constitution and the People are striking with those creators so that they get to try (and TRY is an important point – they aren’t entitled to money just because they create something) to make money off of the creation for a while before everyone gets to use it freely.

I think copyright and patent have worked well for a long time. However, I think current corporate interests are trying to lock up the creations for longer and longer periods of time, which wasn’t the intent of the Framers. I think that slapping "on a computer" on a previous invention is not innovation. I think that making an insignificant change to a drug to get a new patent is not innovation. I think that making billions from other people’s creations once they’ve gone public domain and then doing everything possible to prevent your creations from entering public domain so that others cannot do the same is cheating the Constitutional deal. I think that negligently, erroneously forcing the removal of other people’s creations from the Internet in an effort to prevent infringement of your own creation is greedy and elitist (why should protection of your creation be so favored over the creations of others?).

It’s not dishonest or disingenuous to support creator’s rights while opposing the current legal implementation of said rights. The corporations that support that implementation and wish to intensify it do not promote the advancement of society, the "Progress of Science and useful Arts" – they are only interested in promoting the flow of money into their bank accounts.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Having the case dismissed at the very outset, when the judge is legally obligated to give his claims extra weight is pretty damning for those claims, and since at this point I doubt it’s possible for him to admit to being wrong on the matter of course he had no choice but to try again.

The fact that it was tossed the first time at the very early stage doesn’t bode well for him actually winning through the courts, but if, as I’ve suspected for a good while now the goal is simply to drive TD under with legal fees winning in court isn’t actually the goal(luckily for him, because so long as he’s not allowed to redefine basically everything that’s simply not happening).

Hopefully this time around the judge involved sees the case as the blatant SLAPP that it is, and hits him with TD’s legal fees if not a little extra on top.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

Give him enough time. Shiva, I mean Hamilton, will soon be back to replying to himself with consecutive fantasies again. (Hey, if they didn’t work for him before…)

I like to think that the judge who handed him the latest decision did, in fact, take his advice and read the comments. Which is where the judge got an idea of how fucked up his mind is…

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Et tu

debating the points I’ve made

What points? All you’ve asserted is that patents and copyright are, by definition, good for innovators, and that thus our criticism of them makes us anti-innovator. You know perfectly well, of course, that we have made lots of detailed criticisms explaining why we believe those things are harmful to innovators despite supposedly existing to protect them. You don’t seem capable of addressing that. You’re the one who has never actually responded to our arguments in the slightest.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Et tu

Another amazing retort from the deep intellectual bench at Techdirt. “Butt hurt little boy”, wow, is that on a list that you pick from when you have no credible argument of your own? I think Nancy Pelosi said something similar not so long ago. Or was it crying Chuck Schumer? Hard to remember, all you guys sound alike to me.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Et tu Techdirt

“They don’t write articles that are incorrect, but they choose their articles carefully.”

It’s not possible for news to be completely unaffected by the source, but fortunately that isn’t a problem when you allow anyone to step up and be a source.

Fake news is.. you know, fake.. not actually news.. made up.. fiction..

If someone is selling comics, and they are the real original comics, but they choose which ones to sell, that doesn’t make them fake comics.. It just means you get some real comics from them and some real comics from someone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Et tu Techdirt

Even if they did everything you say (which they don’t), that still doesn’t make them fake news because the facts they are reporting are still true.

Pro-tip, fake means something is not true or not real. What you have described is truthful reporting of a subset of real events chosen to be reported on based on the interests of the editor, basically editorial decision. So, not fake news.

Your comment on the other hand, makes false claims and specious allegations, which is fake news.

Anonymous Coward says:

Corporate news outlets have destroyed their own credibility by becoming extensions of political parties and the military-industrial complex instead of neutral reporters of newsworthy events. The use of know perjurers, war criminals, and architects of the police state like James Clapper as senior analysts demolishes any shred of credibility a news network has, on any level, at any time. As opposed to the assertions in this Techdirt piece, the use of these propagandists, who cycle in and out of government, corporate media, “think tanks”, and Wall Street firms as analysts and commentators is not limited to opinion shows. They are regularly trotted out during “hard” news shows to offer their “expert” and “neutral” analysis to support whatever narrative is currently being pushed. Nobody of any political persuasion should ever believe anything that anyone corporate propaganda outlet pushes.

Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t remember anywhere near the number of dubious “anonymous source” stories being put out by the Washington Post and NY Times during the Obama era. It would seem that the journalistic standards today are much looser, and publishing a provocative front-page news story based on an uncorroborated allegation by an unnamed source is considered acceptable these days.



Re: Re: Losing your religion

Or maybe you don’t know how sourcing works.

Or maybe he just wised up and realized that bullshit is bullshit. If you can’t verify something then you can’t really trust it. The person presenting it can quite literally make up any thing they want for any reason they want.

You have to have a great deal of faith in the presenter.

After awhile, you end up with requiring a great deal of that blind faith. At a certain point it starts to take on an obviously religious character. Some of us have become atheists while being expected to have less blind faith than what the liberal media expects of you these days.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I can’t remember anywhere near the number of dubious "anonymous source" stories being put out by the Washington Post and NY Times during the Obama era.

Then you weren’t paying attention.

Here’s a report from 2013, in which there are criticisms of the NY Times using anonymous sources too much: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/the-public-editor-the-disconnect-on-anonymous-sources.html

The major papers have always used anonymous sources.

The journalistic standards today are not "much looser" than they were in the past — though I find it hilarious that you link to the Federalist as an example, since its journalistic standards are close to nonexistent.

Either way you seem to be proving my point that screaming "fake news" is only useful as a form of tribalism against news you dislike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thanks for the reply. The Federalist link was a top result from a quick Google search. I also try to choose web address links that have a relevant headline in the link, without too many extra layers of fat, to be at least somewhat visually appealing (i don’t embed links). And of course the “Federalist Society” has suddenly become a hot topic in the news, so maybe that word stuck in my head (and maybe it sounded catchy). So I hate to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the site beforehand, but I try to find something that seems to back up whatever I’m saying.

And of course let’s not forget that “Weapons of Mass Destruction” was the biggest fake news story in modern times, with the NY Times one of the main proponents pushing that fiction.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Fake news is a new thing

Fake news hasn’t existed until Donald Trump called it out.

Although back in the cold war days we called what the Soviets put out “propaganda”. The word literally means “information” but we used it pejoratively to mean “false information to mislead the opposition.”

Fortunately the US and its allies have not dropped leaflets on Germany, Poland, Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else, so we can’t be accused of that. We didn’t have radio stations all over the world broadcasting our version of things to offset the “propaganda” so we’re innocent of it.

No, fake news is a new thing, created in 2015 because Trump is so important an entire industry rose up out of nowhere, funded by two rich brothers and a deep state and dark money and dorp de dorp to help stop conservatism. Note: That’s not conservatism as in “being a conservative”. That’s conservatism as in “return to 1800s with slavery and women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

I for one welcome my Republican Conservative Anti-Fake-News overlords with open arms. Second amendment arms.



Re: Fake news is a new thing

Fake news hasn’t existed until Donald Trump called it out.

Right before the election, the MSM was lying about our degree of involvement with the war against ISIS in Iraq. At the same time, certain more specialty news sources were flatly contradicting the MSM and provided details and pictures.

My experiences with media fail were 30 years ago when I realized that what they reported in my own technical area was blatantly wrong and outdated.

I’ve known people (going back decades) with direct first hand knowledge of events that were completely misrepresented by the media.

During the last election I specifically called out one particular liberal news outlet for contradicting their own news stories in order to attack an opposing party candidate.

A number of recent legal and immigration news stories have conveniently left out relevant key details. Sometimes the meat of a story will contradict the headline, or links provided with the story will contradict the article all without even the need to find a more authoritative source.

If you think you’re not being lied to by everyone, you’re a fool and a chump.

mcinsand (profile) says:

desperate to avoid responsibility

“They wanted an explanation for what they believed was impossible…” rather than accept responsibility for grossly, incompetently managed elections. Both sides were in what looked to be a race to lose in 2016. The reds were asleep at the wheel and let a 2-bit reality start carry their standard while the blues have the finger to their base by forcing an unpopular candidate. Rather than desperation to avoid responsibility, both sides desperately need members loyal enough to criticize the parties from the inside. At the present, they are just empty brand names that will reflexively believe anything, no matter how outlandish, that makes them look good and the others look bad.


Re: The cat is out of the bag.

It’s not just politicians. The small oligopoly of major news outlets no longer have a monopoly on information.

If a story is underreported by American liberals, I can get that information from news outlets in any other country that cares to cover the story.

I can also get direct accounts from the ground. I can do this for any place or event on the planet.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Our Obsession" means "conservatives" who are for Truth.

So right from headline, Masnick is creating fake news which actually only attacks those who believe in Truth.

It’s both reflexive and recursive for Ivy League masnicks with pro-corporate, unlimited immigration, anti-American agenda to promote FAKE. Real Americans want The Truth.

Anomalous Cowherd says:

Techdirt biases

To be brutally frank, this is the first comment to ask, “But what about the ponies?” Is Techdirt biased against ponies? Are all the commenters here biased against ponies?

Please note that this is “True News” and not “Fake News,” as I have diligently reviewed the above text for the term.

The mind shudders at this blatant display of anti-pony bias.

ECA (profile) says:

WOW, lots of comments.

So much of what has happened has come about Since WWII, and McCarthyism..
Our Gov. found out that Spies read newspaper, so they would post INTERESTING STORIES in the news.
Even the Major News agencies INPUT OPINIONS, rather then REAL news.
We got used to it. Then there were a few incidents that brought McCarthyism around and pointing fingers are Anyone/everyone..
Then there were Lies that were told to us, that EVEN NOW, we are just finding out. That the Gov. did certain things during a few wars and even a few things to the people OF THIS Land.
Then there are groups on both sides that Either want to create a dissenting idea, a Different idea of the same, or just Befuddle what is being said.. You get 1 article on a subject Stating what they found out and you get 100+ denying that it happened.
Like the medical profession..and that the older Doc’s have learned allot, and the younger ones are waiting to be filled in, and all they get is GIVE THEM A PILL.. The human body is neat, and will repair itself IF GIVEN WHAT IT NEEDS.. but Drugs are only a waiting game mostly..

McGyver (profile) says:

“Fake news” is propaganda… Deliberately making up stories with the intention of deceiving the public.
Maybe saying a false narrative is “propaganda” sounds old fashioned or something… Like calling someone a “fascist”… People will berate the label with the textbook definition as though that somehow changes the problem, so maybe other words get used instead…
But either way, wildly distorting facts, omitting key details or just plain old making up an entire narrative to fit an agenda, is not “news”…
If you sell plastic donuts and leave out the fact they are not real, but in fact made of plastic, they are still fake donuts… Whether people label them as “fake”, “simulated” or “replica” is just quibbling over details, they are still “fake donuts”.
What led to this problem we are experiencing today were two factors… Sensationalizing the news and shoddy reporting.
Both driven by competition to attract viewers or readers.
The competition to gain viewers was a profit margin based fight… You keep trying to outdo you competition, you keep making exceptions, you keep letting quality slip… Eventually what you are doing is hardly what you stated out trying to do.
Sensationalizing the news eventually made it easier to distort facts for those who wanted to manipulate the public.
Shoddy reporting often ment key details were overlooked, missed or reported incorrectly… This too provided an opportunity to those interested in manipulating the public.
The “mainstream media” (mostly televised news) lost a lot of respect from the public by the late 90s because of these two factors, and it was just a matter of time till someone preyed on that.
News became less about the news and more about interviewing “experts” and “commentators”…
Eventually the news took a backseat to the commentary and analysis.
News should be about facts… What happened, when it happened, what may have led up to the event, what is being done about it…
Commentary and analysis should be left to talk shows.
If a tragedy occurs and the first thing you do is go to an “expert” to interpret what they think may or may not be going on, especially when they don’t know any more about the situation than the public, you have ceased to be an effective outlet for news.
You are no better at reporting than that crowd of gawkers hanging around behind the barriers of a crime scene speculating about what may or may not have occurred.
I don’t think much has changed recently… Maybe just that more people are aware that false information is a problem and that there is a complete polarization of the public…
So what if we know how we got here… We need to figure out a way to fix it and foster an environment where people can objectively digest real reporting without interference.

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