What Boston Taught Me About Fake News

This semester I had the opportunity to have an amazing experience in Boston, Massachusetts. There was a variety of speakers coming from all over the country, in order to influence, encourage, and teach a group of future professionals in their industry. We had the option for most times to choose which session sounded most applicable and beneficial to our individual public relations journey.

One of the sessions I enjoyed most was titled Navigating Fake News, and it was a panel of five public relations and journalism professionals who all had a different background to assist the conversation.
John K. Carrol, one of the professionals on the panel, begun the session by stating,

“There are two types of fake news: Stories that are fabricated to make money for a specific organization or product, and stories fabricated to advance and promote a specific political agenda.”

Not many millennials may realize this, but fake news is not new, no matter how the media ecosystem has changed in the past years. A recent survey, referenced in the session at the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) National Conference, states that only 28% of the American public believe what is on the news media.

Fake news is based off of the idea of cause-related marketing. What that essentially means is that your audience is more inclined to agree with you if you are a republican or democrat, depending on their political party affiliation.

In order to effectively navigate fake news, it is important to be aware of the news silos that are present within the news media, online and elsewhere. In order to get out of this idea of a news silo, you need to create a credibility filter and understand the idea that “the internet gives you back what you’ve already told it… you essentially go to the internet to find yourself”. This idea circles back to the idea of knowing more than one media outlet. If the news is consistent with many credible resources, then you can most likely be certain it is not fake news.

There is not much we can do to stop fake news from being produced, but we can help to educate those who help spread the fake news. If we can recognize a story that is not credible, call it out and don’t share that story!

Written By: Margaret Sutton, Junior Account Executive

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