The purpose of a free press is to keep the public accurately informed. Consequently, every credible journalist and news organization should wholeheartedly agree that fake news is the enemy of the people. Livid opposition to this self-evident truth only serves to undermine journalistic integrity and the public’s trust.
Fake news produced the kind of violence and destruction that only an enemy would set in motion against the people of Ferguson, Mo., and against police officers across our nation, who were targeted for assassination. “Hands up; don’t shoot,” is just one egregious example of journalistic malpractice and culpability.
Our Constitution irrefutably protects the right of the free press to report on any subject, in any manner, but not without accountability to the public it serves. The American people, including the president, have protected First Amendment rights as well and are therefore entitled to scrutinize, criticize and chastise the press as a check against the bias, propaganda and incompetence responsible for fake news.
Professional journalism is defined by principles of ethics and good practice, including principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and accountability. The American people expect and demand nothing less. Opinion journalism, however, is the vehicle of social or political purpose. It serves to influence, manipulate and control, rather than to accurately inform. While freedom of the press is frequently cited as justification for passing off biased, opinion journalism as straightforward fact-based news, it is the rope with which the mainstream media continues to hang itself, and rightly so.
Kathie Sisson, Bloomington