Can Fake News Really Swing an Election?

Fake news has been popping up all over the place in recent years, spreading from websites specifically set up for the purpose of fake news, seeping onto our social media and causing chaos on what we can and can’t believe.

When scrolling through our Twitter or Facebook we will at some point come across a link to an article that someone has shared. If it links to the BBC, ITV, SKY or any of the general official news channels we can be almost 100 percent certain that the news is accurate and reliable, however fake news sites such as aim to trick readers into thinking the content they post is real.

This can appear harmless, until readers begin to form negative opinions of people based on facts presented in fake news, ruining reputations and in some cases having the ability to swing an election.

The US election was a prime example of this. With an abundance of fake news sites posting about the election and each candidate, those who viewed these articles would run the risk of having there views on each candidate swayed by the information in those articles. Bringing forward the question can fake news swing the outcome of an election by making the public biased towards a certain candidate?




Journalism is changing and an uprise in citizen journalism is the reason

Social media is dominating the news world. Stories are breaking on social media through tweets and videos taken on mobile phones by the public. As a journalist this has both its perks and fall downs.

With the public having such a useful tool, contact with journalists is easy, making the stories easier to find, the days of being out searching for a story are practically over with citizen journalism taking over and finding the stories for those in the news business.

For photojournalists however the ease of taking a photo off social media doesn’t make there job easier but in fact practically renders it redundant.

With the publics photos and videos being easy to access, and able to be used quickly in breaking news situations that need to be aired quickly, the need to wait around for pictures from photojournalists is simply no longer there. Bringing back the argument of speed vs. accuracy, or in this case, speed vs. quality.

The need for bigger news companies also seems to be fading slowly with user generated content popping up everywhere, the ability for anyone to create a blog, start producing videos and content across a wide range of genres.

In a new generation aspects of journalism can be found across the internet.

Save Umana Yana – NIB

Over the past few months a petition has been launched for the removal of the mobile phone boxes located in front of Umana Yana, a local take away located on croxted road. Specializing in Guyanese and Caribbean food, the company although having a large base of regular and local customers, heavily relies on passers by for income.

The issue of the phone boxes has been raised multiple times by the restaurant due to them obstructing the view of the take away from the road for potential passers by and new customers. Southwark council despite owning the land outside of the restaurant where the virgin phone boxes are residing, have very little power to remove them due to them not owning the boxes themselves.

A petition for the removal by the council however has still been launched in the hope that it will create some impact and begin the process. The petition can be signed through the change. org website so far having reached just shy of the 1500 signatures goal since being created back in august, currently having just over 1450 signatures to date.

Analytics Overtake

The use of analytics is taking over news rooms and dominating the content that we see. Particularly for online media sites such as the BBC and ITV news, the use of analytics has seen a significant rise. With an abundance of readers moving from print media as their dominant information source, to online news, the use of data that forms analytics helps filter and understand what type of stories readers respond to the most.

With every article we click on, be that through social media or a direct link to the webisite the company can monitor us. They know how long we viewed a video or article for, if we read the whole text, if we viewed it from a phone, desktop, laptop or tablet. Everything goes towards measuring the popularity and views on each story posted by a news company. 

Main news stories and the placement of a story on each website, all comes from what us as viewers click on and enjoy to read, just because a story is important doesn’t always mean it will attract readers attention, more popular stories can be found and moved to the main story section of the page. Companies can meausure if short or long stories appeal more to readers and adjust the word count to increase the chance of an article going viral.

Social media also factors in with analytics showing what percentage of readers access the article via a link through social media. Producers of this content can then decide if an image or video linked to the article has any impact on the readers choice to click on it.

Journalism In Digital

Over the past century print media has been the prime source of publishing articles and stories for the publics consumption. However over the past 10 years in particular the digital age has come about bringing along with it social media, and allowing print media to move into a digital form.

With the ability to publish articles and stories online and harbor social media as a further means to push content out to a wider audience, its no wonder print media is beginning to slowly die.

With online news websites such as Sky and BBC news being able to regularly update information as stories continue to unfold, and post breaking news as and when it happens, print media has little comparison.

The days of news papers being delivered to your door for convenience is essentially redundant now with the World Wide Web and an abundance of news sites just a click away.

Despite the obvious benefits of digital news, the sad fact of the slowly dissipating print media era, comes along with the loss of actual storytelling and narrative, with very few online articles over 1000 word becoming viral and reaching a larger audience, the majority of online articles are reduced to the basic facts with little input from the writer themself.