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2016
Kate George

The Reality of Fake News

Posted by Kate George Employee Nov 29, 2016

Since the very beginning of the 2016 election, the media have been a key player. Donald Trump was able to use his star power and his active social media presence to breeze past his opponents and win the Republican nomination with very minimal advertising spending. He publicly fought with media personalities, such as Megyn Kelly, and entire news media companies, like the New York Times. Even now, as the President-elect, he continues to tweet his thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.

 

But as the election came and went, its relationship with the news media has, if anything, become more complex. In recent weeks, Internet news has been brought into the spotlight, and many people are questioning what impact “fake news” had on the outcome of the election. In a time when a quick Google search or a scroll through your Facebook newsfeed can return thousands of “news” stories, ranging in quality from extremely well researched and reputable, to utter lies, those who are not critical media consumers may take any “news” story that passes through their Facebook feed as fact, without verifying the validity of that particular story. A recent article in the New York Times explores how both Google and Facebook are looking into their algorithms and trying to weed this fake news out of their sites to ensure that only reputable news is being spread.

 

As the generation who is most heavily immersed in social media, but at the same time is less practiced at the art of determining a credible source from a bogus one, your undergraduate students may be even more susceptible to these fake news stories than their older counterparts. As your communication students study the news media, how can you guide them in the right direction? One instructor at Merrimack College has compiled a list of fake, misleading, clickbate-y and satirical news sources that has been shared many hundreds of times and can be a great starting point for a discussion.

 

Have you incorporated a more in-depth study of fake news into your classes since the election? What ideas do you have for helping students become more critical of their news sources?