Have you seen headlines in your Facebook feed or at the bottom of an article that reads, “Hillary Clinton meets Osama Bin Laden” – with a picture of the two shaking hands? Or “President Obama’s daughter, Malia, is pregnant”? Or “The process to impeach Donald Trump has begun”? Just to be clear, all of those stories are false. Hillary Clinton’s picture was photoshopped; Malia’s teen pregnancy and Donald Trump’s impeachment are both patently false. It’s fake news.
But the term “fake news” is also used to invalidate legitimate news stories, differentiate opinion from news, and of course, separate fiction from fact. Despite its apparent simplicity, there’s nothing simple about the phenomenon – which also reflects the rapidly-changing media landscape.
According to a new survey by Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events. This feeling cuts across incomes, education levels, partisan affiliations and most other demographics.
But there are ways that you can learn to spot it and become a more educated news consumer.
Joining us on this edition of CoastLine to navigate how editorial decisions are made and how to sort out real news from the fake stuff:
Jon Evans co-anchors WECT News at 5:30, 6, and 11 as well as Fox Wilmington News at 10. He leads the political coverage for both stations, was recently named Assistant News Director, and among many other awards, is a three-time "Anchor of the Year" winner by the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.
David Pernell lectures at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Department of Communications Studies where he teaches journalism.