We need an unbiased independent web-based news media to supersede the obsolete mainstream news media
As we see fake news and online hysteria cause growing violence in countries such as Nigeria and India, and seemingly influencing acts of terrorism in the US, we need to reflect on the reasons for this. Although the causes are multifaceted, the gradual and widespread distrust of the mainstream news media has fuelled interest in fake news, conspiracies and fed into hysteria online. This distrust has become so common place that many people are more inclined to believe this alternative narrative over traditional journalism.
Social media is arguably still in its infancy, and the blurring of fact and fiction on this new media format has been exploited by certain individuals for various reasons. This has at times become a large scandal, for example the case Russian software bots spam posting falsities on Facebook in an attempt to influence the US presidential election. However the narrative has an extra layer of complexity when you add the use of claiming something is “fake news” in order to promote a distrust of the media, and to sow hysteria and more fake facts into certain demographics of the general public. This has been a method used by political commentators such as Alex Jones, but also by Donald Trump himself, and arguably contributed somewhat to his election win in 2016.
But some blame lies with the older mainstream media format that turned current affairs into entertainment and repeatedly dumbed-down content or filtered news coverage to try and broaden their appeal. Over generations this style of news coverage has participated in generating a generation of people who cannot follow a complex narrative and tend to prefer a simpler one. Couple this then with the inability to question or think critically about the sources or reality of what is being presented and it is clear where this difficulty with fact and faction stems from. Now the internet’s many simple narratives combined with this lack of scrutiny leaves many people absorbing fake news in favour of reality as a result of mainstream media conditioning and a lifetime of over simplified narratives used to explain current affairs.