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Fake? Or false?

Why you should stop using “fake news”

Fake? Or false?

Fake? Or false?

It never fails to amaze me just how clueless politicians can be about the media and how news operates.

If you stand for election, you should have at least a passing idea about news and how journalism works – but there’s yet another misstep from a familiar face this week.

I’ve written about Castletown MHK Jason Moorhouse before, covering his calls for press regulation (he didn’t seem to know there are plenty of regulators out there including the Isle of Man Communications Commission, the News Media Association, IPSO, OFCOM, Impress, the BBC Trust, etc).

Now he’s back to claim stories about Castletown Square being pedestrianised could be seen as “fake news”.

There are more than a few problems with using that particular phrase, even though it’s one politicians love to roll out whenever they feel wronged by a story.

The first is this: fake news is a weaponised, deliberate attempt at disinformation spread with a political aim.

So is that the case here? Quite simply, no. The rumours may not be right, but that doesn’t make them fake news.

What is fake news?

There are varying definitions of what actually constitutes “fake news”, but here are three of the most common types:

  • satire or parody
  • misleading/manipulated/fabricated content
  • imposter content

This is what sparked Mr Moorhouse’s “fake news” claim:

And all he can say to back up any claim of “fake news” is that “the story which has grabbed the media headlines about the imminent closure of the Square is a very questionable interpretation of what is happening”.

What’s the problem, then?

To begin with, journalists run the facts as they’re given: if you don’t give a timetable, you can hardly blame a media outlet for not including it in a story.

And secondly, when you shout “fake news” over changes to car parking, you begin to sound like another politician – one you may not care to be compared to…

My advice? Stop using the phrase “fake news”. Pick up the phone and talk to a journalist instead of assuming the role of a victim of unfair reporting. It’s really not a good look.

(P.S.: Set up a Facebook page, too – using your personal profile is a terrible way to spread a message on social media!)