You know it’s a big story when “60 Minutes” does a piece on it, right?
Well, we are joining the effort to make sure local journalism is not fake news, a lead item on the CBS News show last weekend.
CBS explained everything — from the Internet to bots — and how people have a tendency to believe what they read, especially if they want it to be true.
In other words, a liberal will believe a complete lie about a conservative if it’s posted to Facebook and has 1,000 views, no matter how those views came about. Or vice versa.
The views are often result of bots, programs run on computer systems with fake names and backgrounds attached.
Remember the shooting at a pizza place in Washington, D.C. A man with a high-powered rifle entered the restaurant in an attempt to save children being held there by Hillary Clinton and high-powered pedophiles.
There were no children there, Clinton was not involved at all, but the fake news was put out on several social media websites, picked up by other questionable news sites and run as “news” while bots ran up the views of the “news.”
This is how fake news works.
Now, we all know how the town rumor mill works, right? One person tells another person who tells someone else. The story changes as it goes, but there’s an element of truth somewhere.
Fake news is worse. One man, who runs his own web site, started the story Clinton has Parkinson’s disease. He admitted he had no doctor of Clinton’s — or any doctor — saying this is true. He saw her stumble getting into a vehicle and decided she had a terrible disease.
He said he didn’t believe the Democratic candidate had pneumonia, which was the official word confirmed by her doctors, but that she had a debilitating disease and was unfit for office.
And he put it on his web site, generated some views with bots, and a story is born. An inaccurate, fake news story that was believed by millions.
Now, let’s check some things, shall we?
Real journalists will use confirmed sources to write a story. Real journalists will get people on the record about a topic, or they won’t run the story. It’s unethical to do so.
Real journalists don’t hide behind the Freedom of the Press. Yes, we believe in it, but we also don’t abuse the right to publish whatever we want.
Real journalists believe in what we do. We cover stories important to our readers whether we agree with them or not. We personally have our own opinions, but I express my opinions here, with my name and face attached. I will own my opinions, but I won’t express them in any story about any topic. That’s unethical.
Real journalists don’t let anyone dictate what we write for our readers. Yes, we will go off the record, but I’ve had people ask if they can read my story before it’s published. No, they can’t. I’m fair with everyone on any topic. So, no, no one gets to edit my story for their own benefit.
For the record, no outside force dictates what goes into my stories. For those who suggest anybody tells me what does or doesn’t get published, my answer is simple — no they don’t. Never will.
The troublesome thing about fake news is there is always someone out there who will believe it. I’d wager most people knew Clinton wasn’t involved in a child-porn ring headquartered at a pizza place, but someone did, brought a gun, fired a gun and did so thinking he was going to be a hero.
Ever read the National Enquirer or other tabloids? Most of what they print is made up and they’ve paid millions of dollars in lawsuits because of it. It’s considered fair game because the people they write about are in the public eye.
The guy who owned the pizza place was not in the public eye. So, anyone who believes it’s OK to run fake news because “no one gets hurt,” is obviously wrong.
Real journalists — who work at real newspapers in cities and states across the country — care about truth, ethics, watchdog journalism and letting a community know what’s going on in their community. We don’t cater to any group, any person. We cater to the truth and the truth hurts sometimes.
For more information on how to support real news and understanding the difference, follow the conversation at #SupportRealNews or visit www.newsmediaalliance.org.
Or just ask me. I haven’t lied to a reader yet.
Roger Bluhm is the managing editor of the Dodge City Daily Globe. Follow him on Twitter @roger_dcglobe or email him at email@example.com.