A polarized media environment, a digital news ecosystem rife with misinformation and a President who continually slanders the press has eroded journalists’ credibility as well as Americans’ trust in the news industry.
But don’t expect our “fake news” problem to get any better after the election, according to a recent report released by Chicago-based B2B communications agency Greentarget.
Greentarget’s report surveyed journalists to analyze their sentiments surrounding the fake news phenomenon as well as what effects it’s had on their profession. It found that while a quarter of the journos surveyed (25 percent) said they believe Trump has had an extremely negative impact on journalists’ credibility, less than half (46 percent) expressed optimism that the prospect of a new administration would improve the situation. Nearly the same number (43 percent) admitted a different president would make them feel no more or less optimistic about the future of their profession.
In fact, only a third (34 percent) said they think the fake news problem started under Donald Trump’s watch (most think it began before he was sworn in as President), even if a majority agree that the phenomenon has gotten worse in the last four years.
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An overwhelming majority of respondents believe the fake news phenomenon has affected the news industry for the worse: 80 percent of journalists “strongly” believe fake news has negatively impacted their profession, while 14 percent said they believed that it has at least somewhat (only three percent were neutral and an additional three percent disagreed about fake news’ negative impact).
More than half of journalists (56 percent) additionally said they believe social media platforms such as Facebook are the single greatest enablers of fake news content.
Despite their pessimism, reporters believe the burden falls on fellow journalists (23 percent), editors (22 percent) or news councils and journalism organizations (19 percent) to call out fake news and identify misleading information. Only 12 percent think the government should take the reins in the fight against fake news.
Similarly, while more than a third of journalists polled (39 percent) said they support using the law to curb fake news, almost as many (35 percent) said they don’t support such anti-fake news laws. About a quarter of respondents (26 percent) said they remain indifferent on the matter.
Greentarget’s report, “Fake News 2020: Combatting Misinformation & Disinformation In a Polarized World,” surveyed more than 100 working journalists online between July and September. Half the journalists surveyed have worked in the profession for more than 20 years.