‘Fake news’ makes lasting impact on journalists

Story by From the staff, Editorial

One only needs to open up their Twitter feed to see the latest ‘fake news’ attack, most notably on President Donald J. Trump’s account. It has become a new pattern: when a story comes out and people feel victimized, they cry “fake news”. When an unpleasant headline of a government official is printed, it’s just ‘fake news’. It has even become a running joke to shout ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’ whenever a teacher hands out an assignment or when students learn about something crazy in history class. Those two words may not seem like a big deal, but they have a lasting impact on young journalists. We at The Eagle feel that these sometimes seemingless attacks on journalists end up frightening and discouraging aspiring journalists from doing what we are passionate about: telling the truth.

Journalists have always faced scrutiny, including foreign governmental opposition, fact checking and even lawsuits for libel. But having the President of the United States – a leader of a country that prides itself on free speech – target specific news organizations and journalists only because he doesn’t like them, fosters the belief that journalists have to conform in order to protect themselves from a verbal attack.

It’s easy for professional journalists to maintain their beliefs and not conform because they have had years of experience and criticism. However, that can’t always be said about aspiring journalists who have not yet been exposed to opposition and feel as if their work is worthless.

Trump’s opinions on journalists has created a negative appeal to the profession. Trump’s latest comments declared “a running war with the media,”calling journalists “the most dishonest human beings on Earth” in his speech to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It’s moments like these when we feel that our work here at The Eagle – both now and in the future – is just an inconvenience to the American people.

We acknowledge that with advancing technology comes the potential for false news or opinions posed as facts to be propagated quickly before it is retracted. With more information available to the public it is more important now than ever to have journalists do the job they were meant to do: discern the truth from the lies, and report the facts to the American people and to the global community. We at The Eagle respect the duty of the people to check the actions of journalists in a respectful manner: instead of denouncing all media as ‘FAKE NEWS’, reevaluate the media you are exposed to. Instead of taking everything at face value and believing that everything that pops up on a Twitter feed as news, trace the information to the source and come up with your own opinion. Piggybacking on the opinions of others only harms yourself. As a reader, you must read, verify the facts, validate the source, and verify again. It is just as much the responsibility of journalists to report the truth as it is for citizens to take responsibility for what they choose to read, watch or listen to.

The future of journalism is unclear, but it is important not to discourage aspiring journalists, but to encourage them to fight for the truth. Every time you use the term “fake news” or “alternative facts”, think about the lasting impact on future journalists. And remember that journalists are fighting to provide accurate news for you the reader. Only the truth shall set you free.