Distrust and Mainstream Media
By Bailey Gabrielle, Marshfield High School Senior – According to polls like Gallup and Pew, 70% of Americans say that they don’t trust the mainstream media. Distrust in the media becomes a problem when social media markets fake news stories as the truth, effectively confusing the public.
Fake news contributes to the underlying misunderstanding of current events and problems on both the global and national level. The spread of fake news has contributed to an overwhelming number of Americans not trusting the mainstream media.
Untrustworthy ‘news’ sources plant propaganda in social media and market it as news; these camouflaged lies are contributing to the spread of fake news across the world. Propagandists take advantage of the accessibility of publishing articles to accomplish their own agendas.
“The goal is to create divisions between communities… It’s making people want to not participate in democracy because they think it’s corrupt. It’s getting you to either believe that it’s all stacked against you or you just opt out altogether because you don’t know what to believe. When you don’t know what to believe, you’ll believe anything” (Robb).
Fake news propagandists target social media users, luring them into their mirage of sensationalized scandal. They play on fear and aim to confuse and desensitize the public so that the public doesn’t know what news organizations to trust. The cause of the public’s distrust is that they crave the truth and they can’t find the source that will give it to them.
The amount of media available today is causing the mainstream media to self destruct. There are thousands of media outlets producing content. With each news organization fighting for readers, value is placed on how quickly a story can break rather than how accurate the facts are. Fact checking is less of a priority than breaking news quickly and if an error arises the repercussions are so inconsequential that the reporter doesn’t bat an eye (Attkisson).
When the principles that governed an industry are not being followed, chaos will ensue. Without placing a priority on making sure what’s printed is true, news stories are as credible as gossip columns or tabloids. When news of an incorrect statistic or fact check fail breaks, the credibility of that news organization diminishes. This also diminishes the credibility of the mainstream media as a whole. If the bigger organizations are making mistakes, the standard is lowered for the entire industry. The public doesn’t turn a blind eye to mistakes and if a fact is crucified it is lifted up as a martyr against the news organization.
If mainstream media is pawning false facts off as the truth, where can the public look for the truth? A lack of journalistic ethics being used in modern journalism is affecting the public’s approval rating of the mainstream media.
Sharyl Attkisson, a reporter for The Hill, says another fatal flaw in the modern mainstream media’s practices is placing value on opinions. “Once-forbidden practices such as editorializing within straight news reports, and the inclusion of opinions as if fact, are not only tolerated; they’re encouraged.”
Opinions are being treated as if they are of equal or greater value to facts. This blurs the line between fact and opinion when a story is reported, making it easy to question if the reporting is reliable. Opinion based reporting is slanted and not what Americans crave in this tumultuous time and the 70% of Americans who don’t trust mainstream media proves this.
A combination of both a self destructing mainstream media and the spread of aggressive propaganda is exactly what is causing Americans to lose trust in the media as a whole. The publication of fake news stories disorients Americans who are swindled into believing lies. During all of this, the mainstream media is having an identity crisis because they have forgotten the rules that have governed them for generations. This deadly combination has Americans lost in translation. When news and ideas can’t be communicated, people lose trust in their country and the first step to losing trust in a country is losing faith in the media.
contributor, Sharyl Attkisson opinion. “Americans Don’t Trust the Media, and for Good Reason.” TheHill, TheHill, 30 Oct. 2017, thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/media/347091-americans-dont-trust-the-media-and-for-good-reason.
Robb A. ANATOMY OF A FAKE-NEWS SCANDAL. Rolling Stone [serial on the
Internet]. (2017, Nov 30), [cited December 12, 2017]; (1301): 28. Available from: MAS Ultra – School Edition.