The Truth About The Fake

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - BY HAN­NAH VIC­TO­RIA WABE

Fake boobs. Faux nose. False eye­lashes. Em­broi­dered eye­brows. Triple class A imi­ta­tion de­signer bags. Fake pro­cessed fast food. Plas­tic peo­ple who smile in your face but stab you in the back. Fab­ri­cated al­ter­na­tive facts. It seems like there is no es­cap­ing fake nowa­days. It has man­aged to em­bed it­self in ev­ery as­pect of hu­man ex­is­tence. Fake is just everywhere!

There’s no harm in en­hanc­ing body parts to help boost your self-con­fi­dence. Fake fast food that’s cheap and un­healthy af­fects only those who buy and eat them. Plas­tic peo­ple must be avoided for peace of mind. Selling coun­ter­feit hand­bags are il­le­gal and pur­chas­ing them, well, that’s just tacky. As for fake news, it now falls into a cat­e­gory that’s pun­ish­able by law.

Fake news is the scari­est amongst all the fakey-mac-fak­er­tons be­cause they skew truth and in­for­ma­tion! Be­liev­ing al­ter­na­tive facts is akin to liv­ing an al­ter­na­tive re­al­ity. And if you don’t live in the real world, that can only mean you are go­ing cuckoo. So c’mon, get real! Com­bat fake news with crit­i­cal con­sump­tion by flex­ing those brain mus­cles. Af­ter all, knowl­edge is power, and it is the most im­por­tant power of all. Fake it or leave it! Re­cently, there was a brouhaha over a Manila Times colum­nist who wrote an opin­ion piece quot­ing US Am­bas­sador to the UN, Nikki Ha­ley, that Pres­i­dent Duterte needs space to run the Philip­pines. The orig­i­nal quote was first seen on a fake news-site, a wannabe-Al Jazeera. The opin­ion piece based on er­ro­neous ma­te­rial went vi­ral, to the point that it was shared by many prom­i­nent pro-ad­min of­fi­cials.

To fur­ther rain on their pa­rade, the US em­bassy re­leased a state­ment ve­he­mently deny­ing every­thing. They were firm in point­ing out it was fake. Bitch slap, take that. Ouch!

And this is where you and I should cry foul! Imag­ine, many of our so-called pub­lic ser­vants funded by our taxes ac­tively shar­ing fake news. With their po­si­tion and power, they have to be more care­ful, crit­i­cal, and dis­cern­ing of in­for­ma­tion that they share with the masses. If an of­fi­cial can be duped to be­lieve and help spread fak­ery, then leave the in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion to the pro­fes­sion­als (who fact-check)!

Sen­sa­tion­al­ism

Fake news is not ac­tu­ally a new con­cept. All me­dia have lim­ited time and space (ie. num­ber of min­utes, word count, col­umn inches). Add to that, the elu­sive at­ten­tion span of the au­di­ence com­pels each me­dia out­fit to outdo each other to en­sure that they are the ones that get pa­tron­ized. Thus, the con­cept of yel­low jour­nal­ism or sen­sa­tion­al­ism was born.

As early as the mid-1890s, there was cir­cu­la­tion war be­tween two news­pa­pers owned by dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies: Joseph Pulitzer’s (Pulitzer Prize) New York World and Wil­liam Ran­dolph Hearst’s (Hearst Pub­lish­ing: Cosmo magazine, etc) New York Jour­nal. They both as­cribed to sen­sa­tion­al­iz­ing news to in­crease pa­per sales.

Sen­sa­tion­al­ism uses one or a combo of these tricks: bold ex­ag­ger­ated head­lines, ag­gres­sive news gath­er­ing, stretch­ing in­for­ma­tion, im­age ma­nip­u­la­tion, and dra­matic crime or hu­man­in­ter­est sto­ries to ap­peal to the masses. Even tele­vi­sion news pro­grams do this, giv­ing more im­por­tance to lurid sto­ries about sor­did crimes and ac­ci­dents that view­ers seem to en­joy watching.

The ad­vent of tech­nol­ogy has made in­for­ma­tion even eas­ier to ac­cess, at times, even free. In our me­dia saturated en­vi­ron­ment, it is now more im­por­tant than ever to fil­ter in­for­ma­tion that we re­ceive and cre­ate. It’s es­sen­tial to an­a­lyze and eval­u­ate me­dia mes­sages that we con­sume and share.

Fight Mis­in­for­ma­tion

Don’t be a mere con­spic­u­ous con­sumer of me­dia to fight mis­in­for­ma­tion and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion. For in­stance, so many celebri­ties have been pre­ma­turely killed on so­cial me­dia due to fake news. The key is not to take it all hook, line, and sinker. Start by ask­ing ques­tions to en­cour­age crit­i­cal con­sump­tion. The 5 key con­cepts in me­dia lit­er­acy is a good jump of point:

Cred­i­bil­ity: Who cre­ated and sent the mes­sage? When? Check the in­tegrity of the source. Are there any link backs or cred­i­ble sources cited in the ar­ti­cle? Who were quoted? Most im­por­tantly, check the URL. Is it a .com, .org, .net?

Cause/Pur­pose: Why was the mes­sage writ­ten or sent? Was it merely for in­for­ma­tion, en­ter­tain­ment, or per­sua­sion? Is it an opin­ion

claim­ing to be a fact? Is the in­for­ma­tion re­layed within the ar­ti­cle ver­i­fi­able?

Con­struc­tion For­mat: What tech­niques were used to get my at­ten­tion? Are there any loaded words that sug­gest a po­lit­i­cal slant or bias? Is the piece well-writ­ten or is it loaded with sub­ject-verb agree­ment er­rors?

Cri­tique Con­tent: What life­styles, val­ues, or points of view are rep­re­sented in or omit­ted from this mes­sage? Has the mes­sage been spon­sored, sen­sa­tion­al­ized, “spin doc­tored”, or en­riched with a po­lit­i­cal slant? Is it satir­i­cal or sar­cas­tic? Is it a press re­lease pos­ing as real news?

Com­pare: How can other peo­ple in­ter­pret or un­der­stand this mes­sage dif­fer­ently from me? Ex­am­ine that an­gle to see more per­spec­tives then make an in­formed de­ci­sion. Most of all, what do other cred­i­ble news agen­cies say about this piece of in­for­ma­tion?

As much as me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers or sites can cre­ate fake news and memes, the big­gest re­spon­si­bil­ity for shar­ing, pro­mot­ing, and per­pet­u­at­ing fake news also falls on the news reader or con­sumer. Yes, that’s YOU and me. That’s why it is es­sen­tial to fil­ter in­for­ma­tion and pro­duce con­tent that is factual. That share and like but­ton holds a lot of power. So please, share re­spon­si­bly. With dig­i­tal me­dia, the power is now at your fin­ger­tips. In a sea of fake, let’s all still strive to keep it real! Think be­fore you click.

To touch-base, please hop-on over to: www.orochron­i­cles.com/blog/

With por­ta­ble gad­gets, in­for­ma­tion is now eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble any place at any time. Con­sumers must be more dis­cern­ing about the things they ac­cess. Think be­fore you click!

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