I find myself amused recently in light of the way the general public has taken to the term "fake news". It's been an effective campaign, to say the least. How easy it is to discredit any news source by simply labelling it "fake news".
What baffles me is how blindly the concept is believed and followed. How easily people think this is a relatively new thing and how "dangerous" it is. Fake news has existed, in many forms, for a very, very long time. This is not a new concept, it is only now being adopted as a means for political propaganda. It is now being used as a way to shut down, silence or otherwise discredit news sources whose journalism doesn't align with what mainstream media is suggested to issue.
We are slowly becoming more alert to what is happening around us. Whenever a small issue is blown out of proportion in the media, many are left wondering "what are they hiding?" We're aware of distraction techniques used by politicians and mainstream media so that they can do some pretty shady shit. The TPP went unnoticed for some time while we were force-fed crap that had no place in the news. This isn't, wasn't and won't be the first time this has happened.
The question I ask is this: if the governing bodies globally have no issue with their own truths and have nothing to hide, wouldn't it be more effective to provide evidence of genuine "fake news", rather than just screaming the term at them? Why do we now need to take down fake news, when it has existed for so long? Celebrities tabloids make a killing off of making up whatever they please, campaigns exist based on discredited data across several different social issues. It's not a major issue on any other day, we're simply left to bicker and fight over who is right, even though some of these issues can actually have long-lasting effects that can devastate lives. Why now is it an issue?
If it isn't obvious, "fake news" is just another buzzword used to shut down decent conversation. Just look at how Donald Trump shuts down CNN, refusing to answer any questions. This is no different to the feminist buzzword "mansplaining", which is used to reject the notion that men can bring something to the conversation. It's no different to the word "shill", which gets used to invalidate anything that someone speaking in favour of 'Big Pharma', 'Big Tobacco' or 'Big' anything.
When we create and adopt these terms, what we are saying is "anything you say is irrelevant and your opinion doesn't count". This creates a breakdown in much-needed conversations, creating a one-sided dialogue that leaves no room for debate. It is used as a way to force us to accept only what one party has to say, reject the other and continue on not questioning anything. When politicians start spouting off about fake news, it translates to "only believe what I tell you to believe".
If that's not an issue, I don't know what is. Now that the general public is absorbing this term, using to discredit their opposition in political debates (it happened just this morning in a comments section of a post from Clive Palmer) we are further breaking down communication. If a news story is fake, perhaps it demands the truth be released. Understandably, this could be hard if there is no evidence as the accusation made never occurred, in which case the credibility of the news source should be attacked. This can effectively happen by creating dialogue, rather than shutting it down. What sources were used? Where is the proof? Is it hearsay? Was the evidence of the accusation true or fabricated? Was it a misunderstanding? Was there an error in the investigation? This not only serves as a way to show the public that the truth will always come out, but it also serves to keep our media in line. It forces them not to get sloppy, not to run like a gossip mag when it comes to our politics.
The term "fake news" needs to be shut down quicker than it popped up. We need to keep lines of communication and reasonable debate open. Without that, we are forcing the public to be blinder than they ever were.