Have Untrustworthy Journalists Left us Vulnerable to fake News?

In 2010 a poll put journalists as the third most distrusted professionals in the UK, alongside car salesmen.(Laura Oliver on journalism.co.uk) If the trustworthiness of journalists was in doubt back then the recent bombardment of fake news has done little to enhance their credibility.

The influx of fake news throughout the media this year has been phenomenal. President Obama described this global problem as a threat to democracy. Publicly denouncing the spread of “so much active misinformation” on Facebook. There is no doubt that Facebook has been a major contributor to the distribution and spread of fake news. Although Zuckerberg claims that only 1% of news on Facebook is fake.

The US Presidential Election served as a breeding ground for fake news. With suggestions that it instigated the overall victory of Trump in the campaign. Pope Francis apparently endorsed Trump for President, the FBI were on the verge of impeaching Hilary Clinton who was also busy selling arms to ISIS and Obama banned The Pledge of Allegiance in schools. Just a few illustrations of our continued exposure to fake news in 2016.

The irony of the situation is that fake news in itself is creating even more news. It must be the top trending subject ever. If you Google “fake news” there are about 165,000,000 hits. There are websites creating fake news and even more being generated about fake news. So who is responsible for all of these lies? Is the problem due to “untrustworthy journalists”?

With the help of digital media anybody can be a journalist today and there is money to be made from fake news. In Veles, a small city in Macedonia, young people got rich by generating pro Trump propaganda.In the UK, Paul Horner has become a Facebook fake news “guru”. In the US, Jestin Coler’s company Disinfomedia owns many false news sites.There are fake newspapers such as the “Denver Guardian” and newspaper generators to create fake newspapers http://5found.com/5-online-newspaper-generators-to-create-fake-newspaper/

The matter in question is not so much who is responsible for the whole sorry mess but what is going to be done about it. Journalists should be held accountable to ensure a certain level of accuracy. Facebook and Google are implementing actions to help verify the validity of ‘news’ stories. However, little can be to done to counter the rapidity provided by social media to spread non-truths. Once something is out there the damage is done. As Steve Deace stated in his article on USA Today (25th Nov.2016),”Don’t be surprised when folks can’t tell the difference between real and fake news when too many people working in our newsrooms can’t either”.




Reflection on Seymour Hirsh Presentation

I breathed a massive sigh of relief when this was finally over but it was an invaluable learning experience. Looking back, I realise that I spent far too much time on the research behind the project rather than the presentation itself. I did a lot of reading about the subject matter, much of which was not really relevant to the final product. But I did find out some interesting facts and it made me realise just how much Journalism has changed. Personally, I think I prefer the “shoe-leather” approach and the get out there and investigate the heart of a story. Maybe I am 30 years too late in getting into this business!

What I do know is I will be nervous giving presentations no matter how many times I do them. But, the more prepared I go into them the easier they’ll get. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get out of my ‘leave it ’til the last minute’ approach. Which meant I had done the research but didn’t rehearse exactly what I was going to say. I spent more time changing fonts and settings in Power Point than I did on thinking about cue cards or prompts. Resulting in my presentation being somewhat impromptu and waffled. In fact I never even came to any conclusion.

Oh well, on the positive side,  I can safely say that it leaves plenty of room for improvement. Things can only get better!

Reflection on Semiotic Analysis

I enjoyed this assignment because the research lead me to discover some interesting websites and information for future reference.

Whilst searching for photos I discovered the 9/11 image when looking at ‘Iconic photos of all time’ on Google. It was interesting to see that the colour has been enhanced in recent images to further highlight the contrasts between the subjects in the foreground and the Twin Towers.

What I also found fascinating was learning about Magnum Photos and looking at some of the inspirational work on their website.


I have included the image below as another example of Thomas Hoepker’s work and because of the similarity in its subject to the 9/11 photo.  I think it helps to reveal more about him as a photographer and his passion for photojournalism in New York.


Downtown Manhattan 1983.

I find the photo rather poignant in light of 9/11 but once again it reflects American society at that time.

I also came across an article in which he was describing photos that were shown of the 9/11 disaster following the event. One photo  “shows a mother bending down to her baby in a cart on a roof in Brooklyn with the column of smoke in the background. It has a similar life-goes-on-quality, but there is a tenderness to the image that is lacking in my shot.”


I had narrowed my choice of photographs for the assignment down to two, the other one being the image below by Zed Nelson:


This was one photograph in  a collection entitled “Gun nation”, looking at the ownership of arms in the U.S.  I found the photo in an article in The Guardian Weekend magazine, 29/06/2016 by Gary Younge and Zed nelson: “America and the gun.”

This intrigued me and lead me to look into the artist behind the photo. I discovered a lot more of his work which I hope to study further. He has done some really interesting photo journalism.



Feedback on voxpop

Today in Writing For Purpose with Carmen, as a group activity, we looked at the Voxpops and News stories we had written. It was a useful session as everyone gave feedback and constructive criticism.

The main points that I noted on the Voxpop that I had submitted were:

  • Include details of the participants. Full name, age, profession and address (street name, town).
  • Write the quotations in grammatically correct English and not slang or how the interviewee spoke.
  • Don’t include unnecessary quotations that do not add anything to the article.
  • Make sure that the quotations are understandable when taken out of context.

I haven’t worked on the news article yet so looking at how other stories were presented has given me an insight into what should be included.

An important part of developing our skills as aspiring Journalists is being able to share work, ideas and thoughts. I find it helpful to see the work my peers produce because it enables me to gauge where I am and whether I am heading in the right direction. It is also interesting to see diverging approaches to the tasks we are set.

We are all very different personalities in the group. As we get to know each other, we are starting to see these personalities come out in our writing.

Student Blog

My name is Sally Brown and this is my first blog entry as a year one  student on the BA (Hons) Journalism and Digital Media course at Hull College. I am a mature student, returning to study with the view to  finding a career in Journalism (as opposed to the many jobs I have previously done).

This isn’t my first experience of Higher Education, I started studying towards a Psychology degree with The Open University. This later became an Open Degree as I found that the statistical side of Psychology was both time-consuming and laborious. I decided that an Open Degree would enable me to choose the subjects that I enjoyed and was good at.

Having chosen a Creative Writing module I re-kindled my love of both reading and writing. However, I realised that distance learning was not suitable for me. My major difficulty was time management and motivation. Also the lack of feedback and input from peers made it a very solitary way to study. I decided I needed to be in a classroom type of environment with more contact and a set study programme. Hence my decision to embark upon this course.

Weekly Reflection

The induction week is in the past and the first week of study just finished. So far I am enjoying the course and looking forward to the challenge ahead. We have been introduced to the modules we will be studying and also to assignments, which is rather daunting.

The course is very different to anything I have previously studied. I am more familiar with essay writing and academic studies. The practical, hands-on approach to learning ,the technology and digital media are all very new to me. Fortunately, I do have some basic computer skills and although it may take me a bit longer to grasp I’m sure I’ll get there!