NEWSTRACK: What BBC thinks of “Fake News”

“Fake News” – the hot topic of the journalistic community and the Trump administration’s favorite nickname to swing, bully-like, at any news source that they deem in any way against their ideals (whatever they may be for the week). The BBC is no stranger to this form of bullying, having been called “Fake News” about a week back, after Trump’s now-infamous press conference. Note the way Sebastian Gorka, the Trump aide being interviewed by Newsnight host Evan Davis, reacts to merely being asked questions on how the Trump administration deals with Trump’s inflammatory statements. Especially note the buzzwords Gorka uses, “agenda-driven question list” being among them.

The way BBC reacted to this was with indirect finesse, by posting a series of articles on “fake news,” its spread and rise, and how to stop it. In “Solutions That Can Stop Fake News Spreading,” posted on BBC’s side blog BBC Trending two weeks after the Gorka interview, gives multiple solutions to fight against “fake news,” including but not limited to using third-party fact checkers, using specialized code to discover how recently a news provider was made – thus debunking it – as well as teaching others to recognize fake news and how to stop it. Earlier, on the same day Gorka called the BBC “fake news,” the BBC published an article in its Entertainment and Arts section titled “The Corpse Factory and the Birth of Fake News,” on a notorious incident in British history regarding a supposed German factory in 1917 that extracted glycerin (a prime component in soap, among other day-to-day products) from the dead bodies of soldiers from World War I, a misinformed report spread due to switched captions and mistranslations in newspapers at the time. Absolutely no parallels are drawn to any modern “fake news” incidents, but the time it was published and the topic of choice make the parallels very clear.

What’s more, on November of last year the BBC published an article on Trending about “The Rise and Rise of Fake News,” chronicling infamous (actual) fake news sources like National Report and Empire Monthly, what kinds of fake news were being spread, and how and why readers would be so ready to accept and keep spreading this fake news. The only complaint I personally have about this article is that the BBC used an image from Clickhole (see below), a parody of Buzzfeed by the way of famed online satirical website The Onion, as an example of fake news – maybe even the greats can get confused sometimes.

BBC CLickhole.PNG

Pictured: The only mistake I’ve seen the BBC make.

While the BBC doesn’t seem to have ever directly addressed having been called “fake,” or being falsely accused of being “agenda-driven,” they’re still fighting the good fight, attempting to inform its readers on how to avoid and report real “fake news” whenever they see it. The best way to close this Newstrack post would be from a quote by Evan Davis, the aforementioned host of Newsnight that interviewed Gorka in January:”The press will carry on and do its job and be allowed to do its job exactly as it always has.”



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