MAGANES: Fake news, anyone?

October 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm Leave a comment


virLast October 4, the Senate Committee on Public Information chaired by Sen. Grace Poe conducted a hearing in aid of legislation on the alleged proliferation of “fake news” on social media particularly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These “fake news” according to some senators must end as they destroy the lives of people especially public officials.

Those invited in the hearing as resource persons included the staff of Presidential Communications Operation Office (PCOO) represented by Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Asst. Secretary Ana Maria Paz-Banaag and Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson (also a blogger), bloggers such as RJ Nieto of Thinking Pinoy, media practitioners in mainstream media, former officials under the Aquino administration, etc.

In her opening statement Sen. Poe said “fake news create lynch mobs out of certain people turning them turning them into an army of character assassins who can be unleashed which will destroy and idea, person or institution.

The big challenge during the said hearing was to define what “ fake news” are. Are they really existing? How can they be identified? What legislative action could be drawn from the hearing?

Technology, like cyberspace where internet use and websites proliferate, is fast-changing and developing. This is complemented by proliferation of high-end gadgets like smartphones and tablets that at the flick of a finger, information and data could be obtained in seconds. There are millions of gadget users in the Philippines and most of them are the millennials who are mostly active on social media sites.

Personally, I believe that there’s no such thing as “fake news”. In my Facebook account, I posted the following to emphasize my point that “fake news” do not exist.

“ Is there such a thing as fake news?

Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files was right when she said that theres no such thing as fake news” during yesterday’s hearing at the Senate by Sen. Grace Poe, Chair of Committee on Public Information.

News writing follows what we call in journalism as inverted pyramid,with a news lead or lede that answers the what, who, why, when, where  and how. As the story goes along, quoted statements of the source are added. This is to reinforce the news story.

News stories that do not follow the above are lies or  perhaps slanted depending on what angle the news writer wants to project.

News are supposed not to contain opinions, if they are these are no longer news.

Journalists write news stories based on whats happening on the events they are covering. They have to take all the details of the events- what, who, where, when, why and how.

Now, what are bloggers? Bloggers could either be news writers if they follow the rules of news writing. Their blogsites could be  referred to as “ news blogs. But, when they write opinionated statements, their sites could be opinion blogs.

We have now other bloggers: photo and video bloggers. Photo bloggers post their photographs, either their own or taken from the works of other photographers provided proper credits are acknowledged.  Video bloggers may have their own video websites or maybe shared to other sites like You Tube, Vimeo, etc.

When bloggers share news stories  from reliable news outlets, these are not fake news, but when they shared stories with opinions in them, these are no longer news.

Fake news” could not be defined, but lies could be. Information or data that are not verified are lies, but when used in news stories these are not fake” but only lack the required information to make it a news story. Thats why in all media outlets, thereerrata” when not all the elements of the news were present when published or broadcast.

Cyberspace is very powerful these days. With the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, etc. information and data are at hand in seconds. For us social media users, what we should do is to process all the information and data that are available. We have to look into their contents, their sources and the intentions.

Responsibility should be first in our minds. But wait, what would you do if youre a Facebook user and has issues with another person? Facebook asks you, whats in your mind?  Dont you dare to be silent? Oh no, not me! Lets not be hypocrites.

To emphasize more of my point, I provided an example:

“ Lets look at the bickering between President Duterte and Sen. Trillanes.

When President Duterte said that the bank accounts of Trillanes were all over in other countries, media people who accompanied Trillanes and covered the events in Singapore when he went there and wrote news stories of what had happened were not fake news.

The information and the papers presented by President Duterte maybe spurious and lies, but that does not render the news fake when the news stories they wrote were based on what had happened in Singapore bank.

This is the same of what Sen. Trillanes was telling that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) has issued the bank accounts of President Duterte. Trillanes statements were quoted, thus theres no taint of fake newsin it although AMLAC denied the existence of the certification.

Still, the information and data were all fakes” but the news that came out or written about it were not fake news. They were real based on Trillanes’ statements.

Allow me also to share the thoughts of Undersecretary Egco on “fake news” as posted in his Facebook account:

“ By my own recollection, and if I’m not mistaken, it all began with the words “Fake News Sites.” With emphasis on “news sites” that are fake and, therefore, should be delisted or banned.

Overtime, the focus went to “fake news.” The word “sites” was dropped. The term “fake news” is oxymoron. A misnomer. A generic term adopted by many over time to describe anything that anybody wouldn’t like to read or hear. When it comes to news, it is only either it is good or bad. Using “fake” to describe the term “news” is foolish. But the concept of fake “news sites” is more  comprehensible. As I have stated before, IF IT IS FAKE, IT AIN’T NEWS!

Again, sa aking pagkakaunawa, ang peke noon ay mga news sites na nagpapakalat ng mga maling impormasyon. Iba ang kahulugan kapag sinabing peke ang news. Dahil ang balita, kahit minsan ay nagkakamali, ay balita. PERIOD.

I subscribed to the idea of Undersecretary Egco. We do not have “fake news” but “fake news sites”. I believe that Senate could not come out with a legislative action about it since we are protected by the provisions of the Constitution on “freedom of expression” and “freedom of speech”. I believe too that these freedoms are not absolute, but in invoking such rights, responsibility comes in.

My question is: How can the government regulate the proliferation of “fake news sites” (not fake news)?  Can the government do it?

(For comments and suggestions, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com or at virgilmaganes42@gmail.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Read the online edition of Northern Watch at www.northwatch.wordpress.com)

Entry filed under: News.

EDITORIAL: Mga sino ang dapat nating ipagdasal? PDEA, PPPO declare Natividad town drug-cleared

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