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How the 5th Estate Led to the Proliferation of “Fake News”

The race to erase fake news. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons
The race to erase fake news. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons

By Milette Millington

Published: October 25th, 2017

Brooklyn College professor Brian Dunphy’s new book, the second edition of Satire’s Brew, will discuss a subject that we millennials know very well –  the media. We receive information through social media, as well as magazines and online publications. However, the news content that we receive has been challenged now more than ever.

The challenge that news outlets are currently trying to overcome is known as “fake news.”  The use of propaganda within a series of what I call “complex non-truths” is changing how we determine what is true versus what is false.

How did this series of “complex non-truths” become so popular, you might ask? The reasoning behind the proliferation of fake news is through what is known as the fifth estate, which is associated with bloggers and journalists who publish content in non-mainstream media outlets.

In July of this year, an article by Global Policy Journal stated that, “Fake news will only sharpen polarizations, corrupt intellectual integrity and damage the fabric of democracy,” which I strongly agree with because nowadays you can never really and truly tell truth from inaccuracy.

What do fellow Brooklyn College students think about this? Samantha Castro, a dual major in print journalism and film production, gave her insight on this subject.

“I would definitely agree with Professor Dunphy on the fact that the fifth estate has led to the phenomena of ‘fake news’ because it has allowed many different people to report news, and the sources may not be 100% reliable.” Castro said. She also said that because these various sources are not fully reliable, people have to really pay attention to what they read, and also do some background research of their own to see if it’s entirely true.

“As a journalist,” Castro says, “the best thing to do is to report the news accurately, fairly – as it always should be.” She went on to say, “It’s hard to diminish ‘fake news’ because you can’t really stop other people from reporting their news.”

What does she think about the future of “fake news” within the next ten years or so? Castro believes that its use will increase or stay at the same rate as now. In terms of its use in communities and how people see it, she hopes that it will decrease.

Ghennah Forde, a Business major here at BC, says that she also agrees with Dunphy on the fact that the fifth estate led to the growth of “fake news” as a phenomenon, and she thinks that journalists on the outside use “fake news” as a way to meet deadlines easily.

She mentions, “The idea of ‘fake news”could be kind of dangerous for news companies themselves, specifically bloggers and journalists, because they could get into trouble by putting fake information in their articles.” She goes on to say that if news companies allow their journalists and bloggers to put fake information in an article, “They are digging their own holes, pretty much, hoping that no one will really notice.”

Forde says that in order to try to diminish the use of “fake news”, information will have to be more accessible, so that journalists wouldn’t have to make up any information. Forde says that there are people who can look into court cases, to decide whether or not to give specific pieces of information out.

Castro and Forde are just a few of the many students here at BC, that feel this way. They both opened a door of conversation about something that I strongly believe that those who don’t know what fake news is and those who don’t study journalism at BC should really start paying close attention to.

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