The term fake news has a heavy connotation. In the past, it has been applied to exaggerated articles. However, it is no longer restricted to just that.
Today, the term is used often and sometimes news organizations, looking to be the first to break a story, compromise their integrity and either create news or falsely report it.
The action of picking and choosing what to believe becomes easier to do when the news source itself picks and chooses what to air, right down to cropping the cell phone glow out of the video clip.
ABC News allegedly mistakenly ran a video on World News Tonight as live fire with the headline ‘Slaughter in Syria’ the evening of Sunday Oct. 14. Good Morning America picked it up early Monday morning. The original video was posted to YouTube in April 2017 under the title ‘Knob Creek night shoot 2017.’
It depicted a live fire demonstration at the shooting range and viewers clearly recording the action. In the clip that ABC aired, the recording viewers and their phones had been cropped out.
The video was clearly not in Syria but rather Kentucky. Someone had manipulated it and offered it as news. Social media lit up after it’s airing, stating the inaccuracy.
ABC News later issued an apology saying they regretted the error however the public will not forget the phenomenon of fake news is alive and well today.
The issue of fake news is a legitimate threat. The instance of ABC News showing what appeared to be gunfire at the Syrian border could have resulted in far worse than social media outcry. It shows that not even networks like ABC are immune to false information.
It is a journalist’s duty to report the facts as they happen and not to create ‘news’ for themselves or their publication’s benefit. While ABC News declined to comment on how the mix-up occurred, it still is an error on their part as journalists.
As a result of their errors, journalists everywhere are facing increased scrutiny. An article or news segment can be factual but as a result of past events, the public can and will deny it. Those who hold opposing views will claim that a certain outlet is fake news because they disagree with what they broadcast.
This era of reporting will continue to test journalists and their integrity.
We can only hope it improves so numerous aspiring journalists do not suffer as a result of the ignorance of others.
All news outlets need to be held accountable for what they publish.
Viewers must also remember the importance of fact checking, even when the information comes from a trusted source.