Fact Checking: A Contender For The Fifth Estate
Start writing a post
Politics

Fact Checking: A Contender For The Fifth Estate

Is this the end of "reliable" news as we know it? Can news outlets salvage their reputation or is this the end of an era?

24
Fact Checking: A Contender For The Fifth Estate
bandt.com

A month or so ago, I acquired a copy of Time magazine that was dramatically titled “Is Truth Dead.” At first glance, I was taken aback by the sensationalist take on the attack on media. It seemed to me that Time magazine attempted to ally themselves with the New York Times' recent advertisement message about “seeking the truth.”

These two images resonated with me. It’s like both Time magazine and The New York Times are fighting the war on the fourth estate by throwing the rest of the other publications under the bus by criticizing media and it’s allegiance to the truth and objective reporting.

While yes, part of the problem is that journalism nowadays is less reliable because it focuses more on hiding facts to exemplify others due to slanted agendas, I strongly believe that the audience, being agents in the co-active process between message and receiver, is responsible for the information that they digest. That being said I still believe that the whole point of the news is that people shouldn’t be given reason to have to fact check the news. It is the news outlets responsibility to conduct an ethical form of journalism and at the very least report truths.

Due to recent political turbulence, what with Trump's rise to power and the incurring and growing scrupulous suspicions about media’s “truthfulness,” I strongly believe that there has never been such a need for fact checking than right now. Throughout the 2016 elections, conspiracy theories and mistruths have been fired in all directions and fact checking has been given the spotlight.

It has now become more than just “sub-genre of journalism” according to NPR, but an essential tool growing in importance. Words like “alternative facts” have been thrown around by the Trump administration, but no actions have been taken to reduce the consistent production of these “facts.” Rather, the administration has turned to blaming the media’s incapability to report in accordance to their journalistic code. This has eventually escalated in "blame game" rather than the respective parties taking responsibility for their own actions.

In the past decade, 24 out of the 29 fact checking platforms were created to keep from the dangerous fabrication of falsehoods in media. There are many reasons for fact checking, but I strongly believe that there are two main sources which play into Paul Lazarsfeld’s Two-Step Flow of Communication Model. His mode includes mass media and opinion leaders. For instance, during the elections, Trump had repeatedly declared that Obama and Clinton had “founded ISIS.”

The Associated Press, The Guardian, and NBC News Correspondent Hallie Jackson denounced this declaration as “patently false.” However, despite these prolific news organization denouncing the claim, other outlets such as the The New York Times (who ironically stresses the “accuracy of events” and “all the news fit to print”) are repeating the claims without noting that they are in fact false. This includes online publications by ABC News and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In this case, Trump plays the role of the source of the content and the opinion leaders that are distributing these falsehoods are the news outlets like The New York Times, ABC News and The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

According to the Poynter Institute, fact checking is booming worldwide. There are currently over 100 fact-checking outlets worldwide that sift through statements of politicians. Fact checking platforms have increased over 50 percent in the past year. The readiness facilitated by these fact-checking outlets to the public is immediate in the cyber public sphere.

For example, CNN has even utilized the chyron headlines at the bottom of the screen for parenthetical fact checking. With the increasing air of distrust around media, outlets such as FactCheck.org, The Washington Post Fact-Checker and Politifact have shown promising user growth, as the fact-checking is instantaneous and includes a short description of the inaccuracy of the falsehoods perpetrated by public figures and officials.

While I strongly believe that all news organization should call out falsehoods in everyday coverage of speeches, campaign commercials, and political debates, I still believe that people should retain a degree of responsibility to fact check their own news. As autonomous beings with free will, we shouldn’t be so naive as to bend and believe every word that comes out from the mouths of our surrounding opinion leaders. We must take care to remain as informed as we can about our surroundings and make sure that the facts don’t stem from ad hominem statements and non-sequitur arguments.

This brings us to the unavoidable question: has the U.S’s media reliability peaked and is scheduled for an eternal, Cormac McCarthian “post-fact” landscape? I personally believe that it’s not the case at all. I think of the media’s reliability as more of an unremitting line graph with time as the indicator for the x-axis and reliability as the indicator of the y-axis.

While there is a decline in reliability, I don’t think that audiences can afford to lose the fourth estate because of it’s defying nature. While media reliability is dwindling, it’s being salvaged by these fact checking websites acting as an additional hand operating in the “fifth estate” where it’s an additional institution to keep the media news reporting in check. With the increase of readiness of these fact checkers, while I risk sounding optimistic, I do think that media reliability will one day restore its legitimacy.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

45749
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

119292
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments