What constitutes fake news?
According to Wikipedia, Fake News “is a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media or online social media. Digital news has brought back and increased the usage of fake news, or yellow journalism.”
Question, where does “spin” end and fake news begin?
Wikipedia describes spin as “a form of propaganda used by public relations agencies and politicians, to achieve, through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to influence public opinion about some organization or public figure.”
So although the two disciplines are different, they do share a number of common factors. Both are designed to mislead, misrepresent information and facts.
Spin is of course the bread and butter of PR agencies and politicians. Much of the public, understandably, equates spin to telling tales, in other words not telling the (whole) truth or being liberal with the truth.
Fake news is not a new phenomenon, it, like spin has been alive and well since the beginning of time. Its current prominence owes much to US president Donald Trump, who, never ceases to cry “fake news” whenever a news report is not favorable to him or his administration.
OK, so where is this rant leading?
The coronavirus, and the subsequent lockdown, has enabled me to spend more time reading on-line news. (In general I am reading more. Since lockdown I have read Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo, book one in the detective Harry Bosch series, and Steve Martini’s The Attorney. Switching from fiction, a few days ago I started Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore.)
Most early mornings I review four English-language Israeli media outlets, followed by the UK Telegraph and Mail. Rounding off the morning read is Yahoo News US. During the course of the day, via my recently acquired Xiaomi smart phone, I check out the regularly update news stories on Google News.
Google News throws in stories/articles based on your search and/or reading criteria. Consequently, reading one news story on Donald Trump tends to throw-up additional news items. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but of late, almost all the news items/articles/analysis/opinion pieces about Donald Trump, show him in a negative light, especially with regard to his handling/(mis)management of the coronavirus epidemic currently swapping the US.
Although Fox News appears, for the most part to be pro-Trump, The New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker magazine and many other US newspapers and media outlets are scathing in their reporting of Trump’s daily coronavirus White House briefings.
A surprise source of this contemptuous outpouring comes from the UK Guardian newspaper.
Founded in Manchester in 1821, the Manchester Guardian as it was known then, was conceived as a liberal-leaning publication. In recent years the newspaper has been accused of being anti-Israel. So what has drawn me to the Guardian in recent days; simply its excellent on-line reporting and opinion pieces concerning Donald Trump.
While President Trump may refer to the Guardian’s reporting as biased or fake news, certainly given the paper’s leanings, they are not pro-Trump. At the same time, there can’t be smoke with a fire, meaning that there is some truth or maybe a lot of truth in their reporting of Trump and his antics relating to the cornovirus.
Actually, as much of the information given by the Guardian is supported/ confirmed by the New York Times, Washington Mail and the New Yorker magazine, as well as other media outlets, the assumption has to be that the facts are correct, and not fake news or spin.
Certainly the style of writing in the Guardian has won me over, I am impressed on their US reporting, now I want to see how they address Israeli related issue before giving the newspaper my stamp of approval.