Earlier this year, as I spoke about in an earlier post, I attended a semester abroad in Dutch university. While there I took an English module and where we were asked to write a speech on a topic of interest to ourselves.
Give the countless headlines that still dominate our social media feeds and newspaper headlines in regards to “fake news” stories, I decided to dedicate my speech to the topic. I’ve decided to leave it as is in its original speech format and I ask of you to make of it what you will and please feel free to open the debate in the comments below.
It goes as follows:
In the fall of the US 2016 Presidential Elections, fake news as a terminology to describe bogus news stories, often shared on social media, has gained traction. Recently Pulitzer Prize winners, Politifact have even named it their ‘Lie of 2016’.
Many have turned their heads and nodded towards this phenomenon as an explanation or even causation as to Hillary Clinton’s downfall in the general election. This belief has been championed by the establishment media and has led to string of articles, daily, bashing a marked rise in “fake news”, lamenting alternative forms of media for producing these stories.
However, I feel as though this recent ‘backlash’ against fake news is, truthfully, an attack on alternative forms of media by the establishment. Just as the printing press gave the people a voice, so too has social media, and people have taken to it in their hundreds of millions. With this came a new platform, connecting innumerable people of innumerable backgrounds together to exchange opinions, stories and feelings across the globe.
New, exciting and strikingly less regulated than other aspects of our modern world, social media has allowed individuals to seek information and viewpoints outside of mainstream media, a prospect which would not have been possible on a similar scale before. This has led to a rise in amateur journalism from countless podcasters, blog writers and even Youtubers sprouting, each with their own unique take on what’s happening in the world.
Outside and unregulated by mainstream media, Alternative media is ripe with a broad range of anti-establishment opinions and beliefs on the political system, many of which do not exist in the mainstream. Views which terrify many in fear of debasing the status quo of Western Media.
As the famous saying goes, if one doesn’t read a newspaper, they’re uninformed, but if they do, they’re simply misinformed and the establishment is attempting to thwart alternative media by debasing its credibility. Daily, for the last fortnight, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been overflowing with articles, which peculiarly are being posted by all major news outlets which I follow.
Rarely a stance like this is so blatantly perpetuated by all outlets which only highlights the fear that alternative media has struck into their core. The direct link to the masses which they had once enjoyed through our televisions, radios and newspapers continues to dwindle, as more and more people now rely on social media for their news. Unable to adapt and compete with a changing environment and in a last-ditch effort, mainstream media is attempting to bury the movement as a whole by questioning its credibility.
This stance, I admit, has only been made possible through a long list of undeniably fake news stories which have been perpetuated by small or alternative media sources, including bogus allegations against Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
However, would it not be truly absurd to even… for one moment, consider doing away with alternative media in its entirety by tarring them all with the same brush? Especially in an age where mainstream media puts emphasis on being the first to report something over actually reporting the truth of the manner.
They speak to us as though, we don’t have the intelligence or piece of mind to determine for ourselves what is bogus and what is truthful. Surely it is our choice to form our own opinions, to go where we would like to go for answers and to do away with what we see as non-truths. Some papers have gone as far to say in their attacks that we have entered the “post-truth era”. The exact opposite, ladies and gentlemen, couldn’t be any truer if we tried.
We the people for the first time in recorded human history have now the power, the power to choose what we want to read, when we want to read it. The power to voice our opinions to an audience of millions across the world. To give our five cents and to have our part in a dialogue that is taking place globally, on millions of smarts phones and computer screens every day. It is the fear of our potential, as a people and perhaps someday as a planet, to inform ourselves, to eat the forbidden fruit and hear ideas which have not been tainted or moulded into shape by establishment views and media. It is through our potential which they fear that they will become redundant and it is from this fear that they lead their attack on alternative points of view.