Fake News

Alan Rusbridger.JPG

Davide Montagner, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton

The news industry is like a machine, always changing and adapting to the world around it. The spread of information has always been a fundamental part of our society because a state that does not guarantee a free share of information to its citizens does not conform to the definition of democracy. Newspapers and news media are the channels through which citizens keep track with what’s going on around them and could also be considered as a defense mechanism towards possible cases of fraud or wrongdoing by the government.

However, in recent years, with the ever growing popularity of mass media that allow anybody to share information, so-called ‘fake news’ has started to appear. Fake news is any piece of information that, as the name suggests, is not verified or in fact has totally been made up for various purposes. This phenomenon has attracted high levels of criticism in recent years from politicians and the consumers themselves, who have started to trust less and less what is published every day in the news.

I believe that one of the main reason for the current rise in the amount of fake news is the growing competition between social networks that are always racing to get their issues published first, sometimes without properly checking the information that is printed. Journalists themselves are also slowly but inexorably turning into opinionists.

One of the consequences of this loss of faith in news organizations is that information typically considered really important for society, is not accepted. For example, widespread skepticism towards news about global warming. During Wimbledon BookFest, Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian, expressed that many people do not trust journalists anymore. “We live in an era of information chaos, you don’t know what information to trust”.

Rusbridger also criticized how current newspapers prioritise more frivilous topics rather than covering serious threats like global warming. Rusbridger argues that this is pernicious and dangerous becasue public insight is reduced. The situation is even harder in present times, particularly in the United States, with governments publicly and explicitly condemning and denigrating the media. I believe that what the public does not understand is that, whether there is fake news or not, the media platforms and newspapers are necessary to sustain a democracy, also the press should absolutely be free and not connected to the government. What people should learn is the importance of critical thinking and don’t believe to every single news without first checking its sources.

This tragic event had a lasting, and profound impact on Adam. He tells the audience: “I’ve read it out more than 300 times and it doesn’t become an easy thing to talk about.” Adam was able to come to terms with what had happened through his diary writing. He believes they were therapy for him. They were a place to remember the lighter side of medicine and a place to vent. Not only was he able to find his “pressure release valve in humour” he was able to write frankly about the traumas he had witnessed and was expected to see as normal baggage of the job. He explained: “I didn’t tell anyone, I couldn't. Until about two years ago I would wake up in a cold sweat being back in that operation. I've [now] exorcised my demons”.

Since becoming a comedian and author, Adam has become a passionate advocate for junior doctors. He believes the culture within medicine of keeping a stiff upper lip and getting on with things is damaging. “You don’t think of your doctor as being human getting sick, getting sad, making mistakes - I think every health-care professional should be shouting out about the reality of their work - the bad days and the good days.”