WTVM Editorial 12/16/16: Fake news isn’t new

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - We've all been hearing a lot about fake news these days and there are two recent examples that should make us all think twice about believing everything we see online or on the air.

One involves the story known as "Pizzagate." This ludicrous story that Hillary Clinton and her top advisors ran a child sex ring out of a D.C. pizza shop went viral and caused a concerned reader to show up with a gun to take vengeance.

A most rational reader would realize such an expose – if true - would lead to an immediate investigation. But the story is completely bogus.

Another story - of a Muslim teenager attacked by trump supporters on the New York subway - has also now been discredited. It turns out the Muslim woman had family problems she was attempting to escape.

Fake news can come in May forms, but it's really nothing new. Younger viewers might want to google "yellow journalism".

What is new, is the exploding variety of information and the speed at which it spreads.Some fake websites exist to lure big numbers of people with clickbait – it's how they make their money.

No fake websites and some larger national sites don't play by journalistic rules and ethics.

Those rules are actually quite simple: confirm the accuracy of the story, report it with balance and without personal bias.

No news source, no matter how legitimate, is perfect. Not the New York Times, the Associated Press or even News Leader 9. We make mistakes but when we do we correct them. News consumers like you have choices.

The best choices for news are ones that provide facts and context, and most importantly have proven their credibility over time. The always good advice to "consider the source" applies now more than ever and especially when getting news online.

Responsible journalism does exist and those of us in that business must do all we can to practice the ethics of good journalism. You have my word that we will continue to work hard to live up to our promise to provide news coverage you can count on.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road 
Columbus, GA 31906

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