Opinion

‘Fake News’ Awards Harm Journalism

By EMILY WEIKL

Staff Writer

News reporters do not favor individuals, they report the truth. The Fake News awards were announced on Jan. 17 by President Trump.

“The ‘winners’ were CNN, mentioned four times; The New York Times, with two mentions; and ABC, The Washington Post, Time and Newsweek, with one mention apiece,” according to the New York Times.

These awards were designed to spotlight instances of news that were factually incorrect or defamatory. Yet these errors did not go unnoticed by their respective organizations.

 

“It listed 10 instances of press errors, including one that was not a factual mistake but rather a bad prediction from a New York Times columnist,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “Most of the errors resulted in corrections, disciplinary action for the reporters or both.”

Even with the corrections, the news outlets still “won.” The frequent derision of news organizations and reporters by one branch of government is a potentially frightening step for some.

“We laugh about the #FakeNewsAwards but it is in fact quite terrifying and chilling,” writer Wajahat Ali tweeted.

 

“This is what happens in dictatorships and fascist regimes. Facts, language, truth and ultimately the press become hijacked to serve power, not question it or hold it accountable.”

“When the President of the United States attacks the freedom of the press, we become less and less the land
of the free. We become more and more the land of tyranny. #FakeNewsAwards,” Eugene Gu, a doctor, also tweeted.

The term “fake news” has been frequently tossed around by President Trump to push against news that is not favorable to him. However, the criticism of the press in the United States did not start with him. Past presidents, notably Nixon, have been suspicious of the reporters around him. This is not new.

What is new is the increased degree of suspicion and vitriol. It has been constant and unyielding. The Fake News awards were a major part of it.

“Here, it seemed, was the opera bouffe climax of Mr. Trump’s campaign against the media, a bizarro-world spectacle that both encapsulated and parodied the president’s animus toward a major democratic institution,” The New York Times reported.

This should not be more discouragement for the news organizations that have been “awarded.” The President will not change his opinion. Those who use the term “fake news” frequently will likely not change their opinion. This is even more of a reason to continue to report for those who value the truth.

“It’s a sad day when the president of the United States can’t take criticism, to the point where he ostracizes the media and attacks reporters,” Newsweek reporter Chris Riotta tweeted. “But thanks for the award, @ realDonaldTrump. It was the exact motivation I needed to continue holding you accountable.”

That is something all journalists should take to heart.

 

Categories: Opinion