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How To Combat Fake News: What Happens When Journalists, Media, Authorities Act Right

Prior to the internet, my trust in news organizations relied heavily on their adherence to a code of journalistic ethics. It was expected that reputable news organizations would prioritize ethical journalism. However, as I conducted my research for this article, I noticed that ethics now play a lesser role in our news feeds. There is hardly any mention of a code of ethics when it comes to news, which I believe contributes to the abundance of fake news today. What if our news sources simply followed a code of journalistic ethics? Is this how to combat fake news?

In this article, I have compiled several tips that journalists, media networks, government institutions, businesses, and educational institutions can implement to combat fake news. Interestingly, many of these tips are dependent on news sources embracing a code of ethics. Embracing ethical standards is crucial for us to trust news sources and the information they provide.

Why Is Fake News Bad And What Can Be Done About It?

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Please Trust Me, I Am The News

The biggest problem with fake news is that it erodes trust in our society. This includes us losing trust in other people, organizations, institutions, and even the information that we use to make everyday decisions. Positively, fake news causes us to make faulty decisions, manipulates us, and can even cause us harm. Worse, if we pass on fake news, we lose credibility with others. For a more detailed discussion on the nature of fake news, see my article, Why Is Fake News Bad?

Now, the question is who and what can be done to minimize fake news. I think Charles Beckett from the London School of Economics has a great take on what can be done and by who. He summarizes this well in his Director’s Commentary blog posting, Fake News: Fake News: The Best Thing That’s Happened To Journalism, on how best to fight back against fake news. 

Below in the remaining part of this article, I’ll expand on what Mr. Beckett has said about how to combat fake news. There is no easy solution, however it is in all of our best interest to minimize the effects of fake news and promote truth. To detail, below are some tips for  journalists, media networks, and other authorities (government, business, education) to fight against fake news.

Tips For Journalists – How To Combat Fake News.

There are many things that journalists can do to combat fake news. In fact, if journalists or anyone reporting the news just followed a journalists’ code of ethics, this would go a long way toward combating fake news. For example, the Society Of Professional Journalists has a code of ethics. Within this document are four principles: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable. These are fairly simple principles to follow. Also for information, see Wikipedia for more on journalism ethics and standards for more information. 

I think the key point is for a journalist to have a moral compass. Especially with media technology continuing to evolve, it is better to combat fake news using a code of ethics versus a long list of rules. Below are some specific tips for anyone reporting on the “news” to help combat fake news.

Tips For News Reporters

1. Connect.

Journalists should be accessible and present on all platforms. For example, this includes social media where they can engage with their audience and build trust.

2. Curate.

Journalists can help users find good content by sharing links to reliable sources. Also, they can provide a better context for the information they share.

3. Strive To Be Relevant.

Journalists should use language that resonates with their audience. Additionally, they can creatively analyze data to identify trends and topics that matter to their public.

4. Be Expert.

Journalists should add value by providing insight, experience, and context to their reporting. Indeed, this will help their audience understand complex issues.

5. Be Truthful.

Journalists should prioritize fact-checking, balance, and accuracy in their reporting. As a result, this will ensure that they are presenting the truth to their audience.

6. Have Humanity.

Journalists should show empathy towards those affected by the news they report on. Additionally, they should embrace diversity in their reporting, and provide constructive solutions when possible.

7. Transparency.

Journalists should show sources for their reporting. Further, they should be accountable for mistakes or errors, and allow criticism from their audience to maintain transparency.

Tips For Media Networks ( Social Media, News Media, Content Media): How To Combat Fake News.

As with journalists, there are a lot of advantages of a media network to follow a code of ethics. The key thing a code of ethics does for a media network is that it promotes trust. To detail, see Wikipedia for a more information on code of ethics in the media.

Especially as consumers become more news literate, a media network must have the trust of their audience. If a media network loses the trust of its audience, it will not be in business very long. A quick way for a media organization to lose trust is to consistently spew out fake news. Below are some tips that media networks such as social media, new media, and content media, can take to combat fake news.

Tips For Media Organizations

1. Continuous Improve On Filter Out Fake News And Minimize Bias.

Networks can use advanced algorithms and fact-checking tools to identify and remove fake news from their platforms more effectively. Of course, this can be a two-edged sword if these filtering tools are not monitored for bias.

2. Improve Content Quality Rating And Labeling.

Give the user better signals of the quality of content. This includes networks providing users with clear signals of the quality of content, such as by labeling articles as opinion pieces or providing information about the author’s credentials.

3. Improve Algorithms To Promote Better Content.

Networks can use algorithms to promote high-quality content. Specifically, this is content that someone has fact-checked and vetted by credible sources, rather than relying on clickbait or sensational headlines.

4. Promote News Literacy.

Networks can invest in promoting news literacy among their users. As an example, they can provide resources and training on how to identify fake news and evaluate sources.

5. Reward Credible Producers And Publishers.

Networks can ensure that credible producers and publishers are rewarded for their work by investing more resources in them. For example, they can establish better partnerships with content creators, sponsor creators, and incentivize good content. Also, with the rise of AI Large Language Models (LLM), credible and authoritative content creators will help minimize a new form of fake news, AI hallucinations. Unquestionably, for media networks to continue to have the trust of their consumers, it is critical for them to nurture credible and authoritative human influencers to suitably harness AI technology.   

What Can Authorities (Government, Business, Education) Do To Fight Against Fake News.

In many cases, journalists and media networks have little influence over controlling or minimizing fake news. For example, if a government is not transparent or does not communicate well with the public, the void is filled with rumors, innuendo, and fake news. This holds true for any business or organization that has the authoritative knowledge, but is not willing or not able to communicate effectively to its public. For educational institutions, they also have an ethical responsibility of transferring unbiased knowledge to their students. Below are some tips to combat fake news for governments, businesses, and educational institutions that are in positions of authority.

Tips For Government, Business, And Educational Institutions

1. Communicate Through Multiple Channels.

Government, businesses, and educational institutions need to communicate over multiple media channels. For their particular domain or expertise, they are the authority and the “source of truth”.  Furthermore, as an authority it is key to communicate with the public through channels that they use frequently, such as social media or messaging apps. Unquestionably, this ensures that their messages reach a wider audience, and that their message is not skewed or misrepresented.

2. Talk In A Language That Your Audience Understands.

Authorities can use conversational and human language, and even humor, to engage with the public and make their messages more relatable.

3. Be Relevant.

Authorities should ensure that their messages are relevant to the current issues and concerns of the public. Additionally, it is key that they provide clear and actionable information.

4. Be Transparent.

Open Up. To build trust in the public, authorities need to be more transparent about their decision-making processes and provide more access to information.

5. Be Interactive.

Authorities can engage with the public through interactive tools such as quizzes or polls to encourage participation and promote understanding.

6. Be Realistic, Media Has Limited Influence.

Authorities should be realistic about the limitations of media influence in combating fake news. Hence, they need to work together with other stakeholders such as educators and civil society organizations to address the issue.

See London School Of Economics Director’s Commentary Blog posting, Fake News: The Best Thing That’s Happened To Journalism for more information on how to combat fake news. Also, see my article, Why Is Fake News Bad? The Ways Of Disinformation Media, Exaggerated Truth, And High Tech Hallucinations for more information on how technology is amplifying fake news.

Why Is Fake News Bad? The Ways Of Disinformation Media, Exaggerated Truth, And High Tech Hallucinations. Fake news can be a very emotional subject, but why is fake news bad? Most people agree that fake news is bad, but many of us disagree on what exactly is fake news. In today’s world, technology plays a huge role in the creation of fake news. With the help of social media, cable news, and AI-generated deepfakes, it’s easier than ever to spread misinformation. Click here to explore the impact of technology on fake news and more.

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