False fact and fake news PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 07 July 2017 11:00

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

Is there such a thing as a “false fact”? I am not a lexicographer but I have been taught that “fact” refers to something that is true, something that corresponds to what is in reality.

The  war that Donald Trump has waged with the American  media has brought out such terms as false facts or alternative facts or fake news. Fake news is something that is easier to understand and we can think of examples which PR practitioners might plant in the media to get their clients mentioned in the press or give their clients their 5-minute TV exposure. But false fact? This would be a good example of an oxymoron.

Communications technology has made the proliferation of fake news very easy to carry out. That there are still many people who are quite naïve about this technology and how this can be used for one’s purpose has led to the abuse that we are dealing with these days.

In the past we had to live with the constant possibility that a news report may have a number of inaccuracies… the who, what and where;   the how many and the motive. When these inaccuracies happened we could simply attribute it to sloppy work of the reporter. But now it is simply not a matter of inaccuracies but more often the deliberate intent to misinform.

If one looks closely the news channels ( CNN, BBC, etc.) regularly ask viewers to send in tweets or photos of what we would call news. But how reliable are the accuracy or good intention of those “news”?

And there is also the matter of media outfits which  are owned by or are parts of business corporations. This presumes that even with the best of intentions a media outfit would have certain interests to pursue or protect in line with the corporation’s interests.  With interlocking interests one wonders just how far a media outfit can be independent.

And this brings up the idea of a government TV channel or a government radio station or a government-run newspaper.  Can they really be independent media outfits?  Or are they simply government propaganda machinery? They are about as independent as  Martin  Andanar making critical remarks about PRRD.

One has to have a certain level of sophistication to withhold judgement about the reliability of a report that one comes across in the media. Who is saying what? Even the informal news source like Facebook can be manipulated to relay what we have come to know as fake news. Is a blogger’s item an opinion or  news?  Either way the item has the potential to be repeated so many items that it becomes what is known as viral. But does it become “fact” in the process?