There is no Fake News; there are only False Stories

Posted Nov 30, 2016 @ 10:39 am by
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Election 2016 saw the rise of a new meme: “fake news.” This label was used to refer to patently untrue stories put out mainly by pop-up foreign sites looking to monetize gullible U.S. voters, and spread via Facebook and right-wing sites eager to promote the Trump campaign.

Post-election, however, the label “fake news” increasingly is being used to smear independent news organizations, especially those rooted in progressive values. Unfortunately, such efforts–including lists of “fake news” sites–are being picked up and spread by media outlets, academics and others who are usually considered trustworthy.

We call on every stakeholder who cares about journalistic integrity to stop spreading these lists. Recognize that those who formerly used false stories to support the Trump candidacy now are working to support the Trump presidency by accusing others of generating false stories. These attacks on the integrity of independent news organizations signal the rise of a new McCarthyism and must be stopped.

We strongly urge all news outlets to adopt the following guidelines:

1. Stop using the term “fake news.” If a story is fake, it isn’t news. Instead, use “fake stories,” “false stories,” or propaganda.

2. Call out any media that brands an outlet producing journalism with the “fake news” label.

3. Be transparent about HOW your own outlet puts together your news stories. Emphasize the work that you put into fact-checking. Talk about your methods with your stakeholders.

4. Define journalism as the American Press Institute defines it: a methodology based on fact-finding.

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