Can South Carolina Students Spot "Fake" News?

Editorial by: Tony HareFCHS

I recently read an article titled, "S.C. Students Need Better Instruction on Spotting Bias/Fake New Online," and it focused on the widespread use of bias across all mediums of the media. I was challenged with reflecting on this practice and how it impacts the younger generations of today.

First, let me point out the fact that, whenever I notice the tactic of bias being utilized by a reporter, I am stunned at the departure from the standard rules of Journalism that were once held as the pillars of the craft . A journalist was only to be a spectator; he or she should only report the facts, without inserting any personal views whatsoever. Once that was done, you were to simply step back and “let the chips fall where they may...” As one of my instructors once so candidly explained, we were merely to be nothing more than “a fly on the wall. Period!”

Much to my chagrin, those elite practices and cherished standards no longer exist. We are now left with having to conduct extensive research to simply unearth the truth that should have plainly been stated up front in the first place. It is equally challenging, as an educator, to explain the use of bias to my students today and why they should be aware of this unethical, misleading, and duplicitous institution that has now become the norm, instead of being the occasional exception to the rule. So, my students and I examine latest headlines, as well as current events with the idea that the information being presented probably has some type of bias already ingrained within it. I then encourage them to ask the questions, "Who may want to put this information out to the public? Who stands to lose or gain with this going forward? If they are perpetuating the fact of trying to make the situation better, why are they using such much negativity to prove their point?"

In short, I never try to persuade the students-- our future leaders of tomorrow--to believe according to any specific notions that I (or even they) may hold. That would be just as wrong and damning as the biased writers and what they attempt to do. However, I strive to have the students to be very informed, aware of the possible pitfalls ensconced in the information, and ready to wage an intelligent and well-supported counter-argument based upon their own, independent research.