Fake news is in the spotlight. Websites, blogs and social media are populated with it and even print can be. The goal of its perpetrators is to misinform and to destroy readers’ trust in what they read. This calls into question the real work of traditional journalists doing their jobs. Disinformation campaigns make all news suspect: What’s real and what’s fake? How can a free press properly be the watchdog of the people, the fourth estate of our democracy, if readers can’t believe what they read?
In an effort to sort out the real from the fake, especially in advance of key European elections in Germany, Holland and France, the European Union had created an 10-member team called East StratCom. These overworked diplomats, journalists and bureaucrats pore through hundreds of stories a day on Facebook and Twitter, according to The New York Times, attempting to sort out truth from fiction. Of course, they are only partially successful. The load is overwhelming. But perhaps they do serve to make readers pause for a moment to consider and check if they read something surprising.
The subject of fake news is deeply concerning to those of us in the news business. Please be assured, as I have noted in this column before, that our papers have no fake news. Mistakes? Of course. Corrections as soon as we know? You bet. We at Times Beacon Record News Media have no hidden agenda and no dark side. Our only mission is to communicate with you the unbiased news in our communities.
Because a little humor leavens the task, I am including some sly old saws culled from the internet and sent me by a friend. I hope they give you a chuckle amid the serious business of reporting the news.
You Are What You Read (or, perhaps, it should be We Read What We Are).
1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they could find the time — and if they didn’t have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents and grandparents used to run the country.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated and in the wrong bedroom.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who used to run another country and need the U.S. baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minority, feminist or atheist dwarfs who have a sexual identity problem and perhaps also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at Walmart and who think that envelopes are for sending voice mail.
12. The Key West Citizen is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.
13. The Appalachia Chronicle is read by people who later on make it a standard feature in their bathrooms.