Fighting Fake News
Fake news, a term heavily popularised by the US President Donald Trump, was named the word of the year by Collins Dictionary in 2017 due to its widespread use around the world. In November 2017, the UK-based lexicographer found that the use of fake news registered a 365 per cent rise in the last 12 months, reflecting Trump’s consistent use of the 2016 US presidential elections in retaliation to unflattering media coverage.
Defined as “false, often sensational, information dissemination under the guise of news reporting”, fake news took over from ‘Brexit’ — which was named the definitive word in 2016 after the June 2016 referendum in favour of the UK’s exit from the European Union. “Fake news, either as a statement of fact or as an accusation, has been inescapable, contributing to the undermining of society’s trust in news reporting,” said Helen Newstead, Collin’s head of language content.
Northern Michigan’s Lake Superior State University, US, on 31 December 2017 released its 43rd Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse and general uselessness. The tongue-in-cheek non-binding list of 14 words or phrases comes from thousands of suggestions. The list includes “let me ask you this”, “unpack”, “impactful”, “dish”, “let that sink in”, and the top vote-getter “fake news”.
The shoulder-shrugging reply “whatever” continues to annoy Americans more than other words or phrases, but “fake news” is coming on strong. The Annual Marit College poll of most annoying words and phrases found “whatever” topping the list for ninth straight year. “Fake news” was ahead of “no offence, but”.
2017 was a year when Congress president Rahul Gandhi was reported to have signed his name in the “non-Hindu” visitors’ register at Somnath Temple in Gujarat, new Rs 2,000 notes had nano-chips, Muslims fed a bomb to a cow and lynched ‘gaurakshaks’ to death. Fake news appeared credible, landed on your phone through WhatsApp and was incessantly repeated on social media.
The US President has regularly used the phrase to criticize certain media reports. Trump also claimed that the “fake news is working overtime” in connection to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. On 8 January 2018, Trump postponed the announcement of his “fake news awards” to the “most corrupt and biased” American mainstream media for its “dishonesty and bad reporting.”