A recent Time magazine article indicated a growing number of people using satirical websites, blogs, etc. as their news source. What, if anything, is wrong with this? How should this be addressed?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-An article in last week’s Time magazine examining the way that the fringe elements of both parties get their fake news, conspiracy theories and outright parody thinly disguised as news was a sobering read.

The writers found people on both sides of the political fence who had strongly held beliefs that were based on stories from The Onion and other satirical websites which they had accepted as gospel truth.

Let’s look at that again: These people, who I’ll remind you are allowed to vote, drive, make babies and otherwise enjoy all the rights and privileges of adults, were cleaving to “facts” they saw written in a SATIRICAL paper.  This is akin to getting all your news from the “Weekend Update” segment on “Saturday Night Live.”

But when you look at the success of programs like “The Five” on Fox News, “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central and John Oliver’s hilarious “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, the article becomes somewhat less surprising.  Those on the left and right have become ideologically lazy, seeking out talking heads who echo their own beliefs and let them sit in their comfort zones rather than giving any sort of critical examination to the issues screaming for attention before the nation today.

Of course, if our “real” news sources would cover a bit less Kardashian and a bit more Kabul, it might not be quite so easy for the American public to be distracted by shiny shouters.  I had long ago abandoned “Today” and “Good Morning America” in the mornings in favor of the more staid CBS offering, but now even that bastion is full of various celebutards and other spotlight seekers giving puff piece interviews to Charlie Rose (who always looks vaguely like he’s leering) and the rest of the crew.

We need another Edward R. Murrow, someone to whip the news business back into shape, trounce the unvetted fake news of the blogosphere and restore journalism to its glory.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-If the saying “No news is good news” is true, is its opposite, “All news is bad news” also correct? Perhaps, especially now that we are firmly ensconced in the age of 24/7 news coverage, instant communication, and the explosion of the internet as a source of information—some of it news—via blogs, freelance journalists, and news-oriented websites like the Onion, the Huffington Post, and the Drudge Report.

Using a satirical website or blog as an exclusive news source presents another problem, though. In this day of short attention spans and overly busy lives, will everyone who reads a satirical blog or hear about an item on that blog from someone else realize the report is satire that is merely based on truth? This is where the danger comes from—people who don’t have or don’t take the time to understand that the satire is actually satire. When this happens, perceptions about what is fact and what is fiction are skewed to the point where they either blend into each other, or individuals pick and choose what they want to believe is fact based on their personal biases, fears, or preferences.

The upside to an increase in consumers reading satirical blogs or websites is a general increase in the level of awareness of current events. If that helps the populace become more informed on the news events that may directly affect their lives, then any information source has some value. The key is to at least have some disclaimers on any satirical website that clearly states the content of the site is not necessarily factual and may contain exaggerations, half-truths, or outright falsehoods and is strictly for entertainment purposes and not a fact source.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Utilizing satirical websites, blogs and other questionable sources for news can be misleading and almost insulting to those seeking a reliable basis for news.  The unreliability of such sites is what is wrong with depending on such sources for news.  In order to address the issue, those sites should be viewed from a quizzical perspective at best. What is reported on these sites can be provocative and sensationalized as well as simply not true.

Usually those seeking real news want to know the truth not confusing, exaggerated misinformation, which often reads like gossip heavily laden with confusion, personal opinion and criticism as opposed to actual researched facts. If news addicted individuals are going to get the best of the real news, they will have to refine the news sites they access and narrow down their choices to a few reliable ones.

Filtering out satirical websites, blogs and other questionable online news sources doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It is relatively simple to go through blogs and other sites and categorize them according to reliability. There are both right and left leaning news sites and blogs, and filtering can initially be done with those and further refinements completed for more legitimate sites.  News seekers can go to Google or other search engines and put in searches for false and satirical news sources, which should provide listings of news sites or affiliated blogs that are questionable.

Not all websites or blogs are problematic but there should be some indication as to their newsworthiness and reliability when readers examine them in the right way. There should always be facts outlined in who, what, when, where, why and how type of format without wildly exaggerated claims intermingled with a smattering of contrived facts.   If the wording is slanted and blown out of proportion and there are no verifiable facts, then there is a high probability that the site or blog is of limited or “real” news value.

People truly interested in following the news have come to the conclusion that there are few off and online sources for real news reporting, and they realize that alternative news sources such as blogs and satirical websites have recently come into serious play. These sites have become sources to be reckoned with and have created serious confusion with real news reporting, particularly over the period leading up to the recent election.

Those that are more interested in sensationalism and have a penchant for denying the truth have turned to satirical sites and blogs for their news. They are accessing sites that steer them in the wrong direction concerning the real news, which does little more than confuse and confound them more than they already are. Truth deniers relish finding these kinds of sites to reconfirm their misguided idea of what news should be and has become for them.

Maybe these satirical sites and blogs should be categorized as counter accessories to the real news as their attention getting headlines and story lines appear to be designed to grab a certain segment of the population bent on molding the news to their specifications.   If that is the reality of the “new” news or what is being called “fake” news, then maybe some real journalists need to take on the faux news peddlers.

Attempting to silence and disrupt those who provide real news reporting as well as compete with authentic news organizations on an equal basis is a conflict that needs to be addressed.  Differentiation between faux and authentic news needs to be a priority with those who both gather and report the news.  Factual reporting needs to find its way back into the mainstream for the benefit of those who want credible news free of purpose driven opinions and tabloid journalism.

 

 

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