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Fake news and plain lies

The ongoing challenge of separating fact from fiction in the digital news space

29 Jun 2017 by John White

At a Reuters digital news report briefing yesterday, much of the chatter in the room was focused on the media zeitgeist that is fake news.

What is it, and what does it mean for journalism, politics and everything in between, the panel were asked. One sobering stat in the report revealed that the general public’s trust in the news they consume is down 7% after the Brexit vote.

For the BBC's director of news and current affairs, James Harding, the answer lies in the pursuit of quality journalism that is driven by a desire to uncover all of the facts, no matter how unpalatable. But there is also a need to embrace the latest tech and data tools, he argued, and there is work to be done with the tech giants to help connect the reader with the best news content being produced.

The UK’s Freedom of Information Act is an effective tool in the armoury fighting against ‘alternative facts,’ and one that OT was able to put to good use in our news story on driving licences that have been revoked or refused by the DVLA

Strikingly for me, the Reuters report reflected the power of Silicon Valley: 90% of digital advertising revenue today is funneled into Google and Facebook. The data also indicated that the reach of social media continues to grow, which is reflected in the increase in the number of mobile devices we own. This was also reflected in terms of how people are using not only Facebook but instant messenger tools such as WhatsApp and SnapChat to share and read their news. 

It is an interesting trend, and at OT we recognise that digital platforms and social media offer unique opportunities. Through Twitter and Facebook for example, we are seeing growing levels of engagement. Plus, the AOP Community forum provides a valuable channel for us to strike up conversations with members.

To that end, check out our latest forum posts. We are asking readers to tell us the one issue they'd like OT  to investigate in the September edition – so please do share your views with us.

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