Is Journalism In Danger?

Journalism was always where we found the truth and learned about what was happening in the world and why. But fake news has arrived to compete with traditional fact-based reporting.

Fact-based news

Journalism is undergoing a tremendous upheaval as it is undermined by fake news on a daily basis. Technology disrupts the news industry in a way that was unimaginable only a decade ago. Social media is harming traditional reporting, damaging moderate voices, and causing turmoil to the usual business model. The internet provides access for billions of people to present their argument with equal veracity, whether or not it is true. And given the sheer number of people who voice their agendas the reporting of facts gets lost in the quantity of disinformation that stream through non-stop news feeds. The irony of the new terrain is that those who promote fake news defend their argument by simply branding everything else as lies. And in the wild world of social media people feast not on the truth but on what supports their particular beliefs.

In journalism today there is a sense of incredulity and despair that the system of reporting facts is under such violent and sustained attack from so many disparate quarters. As a result it is ceding ground to an avalanche of fake news factories that thrive on spewing out data to destroy and distort the truth. Facts are manufactured to suit any particular agenda and material tirelessly spread to support arguments that undermine the truth of every story. The real difficulty arises when the new system of invisible actors work in concert to affect the democratic process and convince voters to make decisions based on deceit and deception.

Fake news

There was a time, not long ago, when people believed in the importance of finding and presenting facts to inform rational decision making for the benefit of society at large. It was accepted that fact-based arguments would trump arguments based on lies. But in today’s environment facts are regularly dismissed and defeated by branding them as fake news. The real concern is not that fake wins over fact but that the rules of public debate are changing so that every fact is under attack when it doesn’t fit the view of the baying mob. It is worrying that many people no longer differentiate between what is true and what is false. But social media allows us to present opinions without the burden of evidence or proof. The challenge for journalism is that anyone can publish without the ethos or discipline of objective reality. Real news loses to fake news, facts lose to lies, and there is no obvious way to stop the influence and infiltration of an industry that is struggling to survive into the next generation.

So, fact-based journalism is replaced by fake news in a world where social media favours those who shout loudest and tell the biggest lies.