Fake news

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WHEN something is peddled to the general public as the truth but it turns out to be a complete fabrication because it did not happen, then that’s fake news. I don’t care whatever platform — social or mainstream media — carries a piece of disinformation or whether a blogger or a journalist wrote it, fake news is fake news.

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And opposite a lawmaker’s insistence that fake news be called “misinformation,” fake news is actually disinformation. Misinformation may be a simple case of error in news reporting, but disinformation takes on a Goebbels-like aspect with an intent to mislead people.

Journalists are oftentimes guilty of getting their facts wrong, but such errors may not necessarily amount to fake news but simple misreporting due to indolence to cross-check information.

Mainstream media outlets have time and again been caught selling complete fabrications either because editors had been taken for a ride by reporters or the news organizations were simply filling up a quota on how many stories to churn out. In the US, there was at least one instance of an award being withdrawn from a journalist when it came to light that his report was fake.

Here in the Philippines, a top national daily reported the execution of an OFW when the verdict was actually stayed at the last minute when the paper had already gone to press with its “fake news” item.

That was a clear example of “fake news” carried by a legitimate news organization — something made more glaring by its attempt early on to excuse itself for killing on paper a woman who evaded the hangman’s noose.

“We can get away with it because we’re No.1,” lamely said a reporter of that paper, to which I replied: “Not for long and not when you anticipate an event to happen and write it as if it already happened based on the figment of your writer’s imagination.”

Whatever the circumstances were that led to that fake news, the only question was, “did the execution happen?” If it did not happen then that story was a complete fabrication.

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