Put aside arguments about the president and his definition, there really is “fake news.” It is alive and well on the internet via numerous sites and social media. People should be aware – and beware.

Some examples as reported by Editor & Publisher:

• Facebook in September 2017 released a statement admitting 3,000 ads were published on the platform in violation of their policies, allegedly linked to and operated out of Russia. The ads weren’t strictly the types usually seen and recognized as campaign ads, disguising themselves as news articles or memes led to their further infiltration.

• Twitter admitted the purchase of $274,100 spent by pro-Russia and Russia-controlled outlet Russia Today to influence the U.S., specifically targeting news consumers. They said the accounts sent 1.4 million election-related tweets.

• Google, a platform already familiar with attempts by bots and content farms to play the algorithm, announced Russian interference to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars spent on ads on Google.

Facebook has announced it is pulling back from “news” in favor of returning to its social media rules. While it is unclear exactly how the change will play out, the time has come for society to realize that the ability to distribute content does not mean the distributor is a professional newsgatherer.

Research is showing that people are increasingly skeptical of what they read, with Pew Research Center reporting 64 percent of American adults say made-up news is creating confusion about what to believe.

There’s a cure. It’s called professional journalism and its importance has never been greater. While reporters and editors doing their job according to professional standards of newsgathering are not perfect, they are not purveyors of “fake news.”

Local newspapers -- The Times and Democrat included – are essential in gathering news about communities, the state, even the nation, and getting that news to consumers in need of information they can trust. Some, however, would have you believe newspapers will not survive. They are wrong.

Political blogs, chat rooms, messaging, etc., play roles in today's dissemination of information. But when it comes to "news," newspapers and other media with a track record of credibility will stay true to their mission and win the day.

The persistent discussion about whether a printed newspaper will be around for the long term is just a piece of the puzzle. Print loyalists consider their favorite venue the only way to go. Many more thousands of readers find online the place to be for the daily newspaper. Newspapers are out front on each front through multiple platforms, including social media.

The fact is, The T&D has more readers/audience today than at any time in its history. We are the source for local news and plan to be going forward – with nothing fake about it.


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