Despite a change of leadership in the White House, as well as recent efforts by Big Tech to monitor social media and establish protocols to boost media literacy and fight disinformation online, journalists say the “fake news” problem isn’t going away and continues to plague the news industry, according to research released by Chicago-based B2B communications agency Greentarget.
Greentarget’s annual report, which surveyed journalists to analyze their sentiments surrounding the fake news phenomenon as well as what effects it’s had on their profession, found that journalists aren’t feeling much better than they were a year ago about the fake news phenomenon. 84 percent of journalists currently agree that fake news has negatively impacted their profession, compared to 80 percent who’d reported this sentiment for Greentarget’s previous report on the topic last year.
One in five journalists surveyed (20 percent) said they believe recent media literacy efforts have had no impact when it comes to lessening the spread of fake news, and only six percent think Big Tech’s monitoring of social media has had a significant impact on the problem.
Complicating the issue is the notion that journalists appear to disagree on the meaning of the term itself: 41 percent of journalists said that when they hear the phrase “fake news,” they consider the term to be a reference to traditional or qualified news sources, compared to 38 percent who said it refers to sites specializing in misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.
Journalists widely believe that false and misleading news is something they and their colleagues have an ethical responsibility to fight: 93 percent said journalists are best positioned to vet and identify fake news, compared to 85 percent last year. Unfortunately, only 39 percent believe their efforts have had a moderate impact on lessening the spread of fake news, and only 14 percent believe their efforts have made a significant impact.
Greentarget’s second annual Fake News report surveyed 103 working journalists online between July and August. More than a third of the journalists surveyed (35 percent) reported working in the profession for more than 20 years.