Innovation in 2017

Saying so long to fake news

Thanks to the hurricane that was a new (and at best – problematic) leader coming to power at the end of 2016, predicting what comes next for journalism is hard.  However, Almar Latour and Ole Reißmann have tried their best to predict its future for Neiman Lab — particularly in a ‘fake news’ world.

In my previous blog post I mentioned that the landscape of journalism is changing dramatically, with the digital age and the ‘fake news’ hullabaloo being primary actors in said change. Unfortunately for those of you who find the concept of change hard to comprehend, change in the way journalism is practiced and regarded is something you are just going to have to acknowledge.

Perhaps if you read Almar Latour and Ole Reißmann articles, those of you who have your doubts about journalism’s future, might believe their argument that this change could be for the benefit of journalism, by returning it to its original purpose.

As publisher and executive vice president for Dow Jones Media Group, Latour’s prediction for journalism in 2017 flips the negative perception of ‘fake news’ on its head, with the headline actually thanking fake news, stating “journalism is often at its best during periods of genuine turmoil or uncertainty.”

Latour has an interesting take on the current fake news fanfare. He relays what us in the media ecosystem know to be true — that the intrusion of fake news has been met with fear and outrage. However, he offers a more refreshing outlook for 2017 stating fake news might trigger a good thing; a reminder of the extraordinary value of truth.

Similarly, Ole Reißmann, founder and managing editor of Bento, a publication of Der Spiegel, also believes in order to ‘un-fake the news’ there needs to be a return to the true values of how journalism works; stating, “We need to vaccinate the public with real journalism”.

Both articles by these journalists pose more of a call-to-arms for fellow journalists, rather than a prediction as such. Latour states that instead of scolding social media platforms for distributing it [fake news], journalists must produce even stronger reporting mixed with entrepreneurship to achieve endemic obfuscation — providing an opportunity to live up to the core of the profession.

Reißmann’s article resonates with these ideologies surrounding Latour’s. He argues we must take these rumours and the most absurd conspiracy theories seriously, invest resources, and fact-check them.

It is our duty as the fourth estate to provide truths to the public, to scrutinise our leaders, governments and powerful corporations. NOT let them and their agencies decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not, as Reißmann puts it.

Both of these journalists have provided an outlook that requires a rise of vigorous quality journalism. They essentially argue the answer for the future of journalism is ‘un-faking the news’ through a return to core journalistic truths and values.

In an age where social media flourishes, consequently a lot of conspiracy theories spread like weeds — thanks to the concept of hashtags, filters and the speed of the world wide web. I believe that Reißmann and Latour’s predictions for a year of journalism that returns to its core values to kick fake news in the butt is an optimistic one — one that I for one, can definitely get around. By accepting social media with open arms, and allowing changes to come as they please, us as journalists can use change to our advantage — by being progressive with it and reminding us why we are really here.

About the author

Portia Conyers-East