How to Stop 'Fake News'
From Ruining Local TV News
How to Stop
'Fake News' From Ruining Local
Written by News Gal
🕒 August 3, 2018
I’ll be honest.
I’ve worn fake hair.
I wear fake eye-lashes.
I’ve had a fake tan.
My hair color, while not “fake” isn’t what God gave me.
All of these fake things in my life, and I never hear about any of them. You know what I do hear about though?
It hurts me to even type those two words. I am SO SICK of it.
On a daily basis, someone tells me I’m reporting fake news. Sometimes it’s people trying to be funny, and other times it’s people who are dead serious.
I was covering a homicide the other day, and a man told me to “take my fake news” out of his neighborhood. Um, sir, there’s a body right there.
There’s nothing fake about this terrible scene we’re all staring at.
I’ve been confronted by people at the grocery store, the hair salon, and the airport about fake news. Even some of my own family members have told me they don’t know how I can do a job where all I do is lie.
If you could see me right now, I’m rolling my eyes. BIG TIME.
This isn’t a political post, but we all know where fake news came from. President Trump loves tweeting about it, and talking about it and there are a lot of people who have bought into what he has to say about the media.
Don’t get me wrong, some stations — both network and local– put some “facts” on air that are questionable, and that is not OK.
We’re journalists. Our job is to report the facts, and these days the line between fact and fiction is getting even blurrier.
I don’t think that any reporter, photographer, or anchor wakes up in the morning with the intent to spread false information to the public, but it does happen.
Remember that really embarrassing situation when KTVU reported fake names of the Asiana pilots? An intern with NTSB gave the media wrong information, but the station went with it, when let’s be honest, someone should have caught that there was something wrong with the name Captain Sum Ting Wong.
I’ve had times in my job where a Public Information Officer has given us the wrong name of a suspect or a victim. They’ve even sent us the wrong mugshot before. It’s embarrassing for us, and can even lead to legal trouble.
Those are just two examples, but they’re examples we need to pay attention to.
We cannot just take information someone gives us, and not fact-check it before we report it. Yes, we are always on a tight deadline, but remember: it’s more important to have the correct information than to be first but wrong.
It’s mistakes like these that fuel the people who think we are Fake News.
It doesn’t matter how small the error is, people want us to fail. They’re waiting for us to slip up. We have to be more on our game than ever before.
When someone sends you a mugshot, triple check the name, birthdate, and charges. If a parent at a school board meeting tells you one thing happened, check with several other parents and board members to see if the stories match up.
If you don’t feel comfortable with information you’ve received, make sure you do your homework. Call some more sources. Use Google. Ask co-workers. Do not go on-air or online with something that you don’t feel confident is accurate.
Our jobs are tough and “fake news” is adding another hurdle to our daily duties.
We’ll get through this, but it’s going to take good, solid journalism from reporters who do their homework and vet their sources.