There are some pretty smart people at Stanford University.
In a study, Stanford students and history professors “got it wrong most of the time” when asked to determine if various web site stories on medical issues were fake news or actual news.
So shares Elizabeth Bennion, an Indiana University South Bend political science professor and participant in the BizVoice® magazine roundtable on the 2018 elections. She believes, “Something our high schools and colleges need to be doing more of is teaching these civic literacy and media literacy skills so that people are armed with the information they need to tell for themselves if news is fake or not.”
Laura Merrifield Wilson, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis, agrees that the challenge is quite real.
“It’s hard to disseminate what is fake and what is real sometimes, and people aren’t active in making that difference,” she explains. “How many times have you seen on social media where someone will retweet or report a story from The Onion or something like it? They take it very literally because they don’t understand that it’s satire, or worse, it’s not trying to be satire but it’s actually inaccurate.”
The obsession with immediacy – in distributing and consuming the news – doesn’t help, Wilson adds.
Brandon Smith, the Statehouse reporter for Indiana Public Broadcasting and host of Indiana Week in Review, is in the business of real news. He describes the current challenge as two-fold.
“There’s actual fake news, of which there is a lot unfortunately, and it seems to be proliferating now. But then there is also the use of the words ‘fake news’ to describe anything with which I disagree. To me, that’s the more troubling part … just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean it’s not true or real. I didn’t imagine a time in my life where literally reality is up for debate, but that’s where we are.”
Even though it may be difficult; even though the term is too often used incorrectly … Smith does have some common sense parting advice.
“Something I will often say to people is: If it seems a little too ridiculous to be real, odds are it is too ridiculous to be real.”
Check out the current issue of BizVoice for some real insights and analysis on the U.S. Senate race in Indiana, control of Congress, what’s happening at the Statehouse and more.