This weekend The Washington Post released a story detailing how a branch of Fox operated a number of fake news websites, otherwise known as “click-bait” sites, in order to attract readers/viewers to see advertisements for one of Fox’s upcoming movies entitled “A Cure for Wellness.”
Upon being exposed for their behavior and especially given all of the animosity between the US public and the press recently, members of Fox’s marketing staff publicly apologized for their tactics explaining that “we do our best to push the boundaries of traditional marketing in order to creatively express our message to consumers. In this case, we got it wrong. The digital campaign was inappropriate on every level, especially given the trust we work to build every day with our consumers.”
It is important to note that 2ost Century Fox produces movies, they do not directly work with Fox News Network – they just share the same parent company. While I do not want to blow this story out of proportion, I do believe this news event points to a much larger problem that I do not see anyone addressing. So, taking this headline as an opportunity, I am going to explain to you how fake news producers are funded, how the industry operates and why it has grown so large through social media.
We live in a unique time in human history where the collective wealth of knowledge of the world is available to us all at the touch of a fingertip, yet society seems less educated than ever about important world affairs and political events. I also happen to live in a country where the President of the United States can go out in public and call the news”fake,” while adding that news institutions have become an “enemy” of the American public…but then later in the same speech goes on to cite two different fake news stories about Germany and Sweden – seriously, you really cant make this stuff up.
Here is the weird thing though, now that nearly every source of news is throwing around accusations of fake news against everyone else, there is really no more fake news left to prosecute. When coming under fire for a story they produce, publishers, pundits, reporters and anchors just backtracks towards saying they are merely expressing their own opinions. After-all, whom is anyone to tell anybody else that they are not allowed to have their own opinion – this is America isn’t it?
It is just unfortunately that some of the loudest or most influential “opinions” these days come from the people whom own and/or report about “the news.”
Adding to the problem is the laziness or flat out unwillingness of the American public to independently fact check information or learn anything new for themselves. The degradation of knowledge in society has reached the point where anyone on the internet, including some of the Internet’s largest publishers of information, can literally make up and publish whatever they want – entirely without consequence.
Not only that, but internet publishers and news organizations are actually starting to duel one another outright, to see whom can indoctrinate their viewers the most/best.
Turn on CNN right now, I will be my life that you will find coverage loosely stating how Trump is an embarrassment and the country/US Government looks foolish – followed by coverage of an anti-Trump protest somewhere or an advertisement for an upcoming event. Wait a minute and then turn on Fox News where you will find various anchors/pundits all trying their little hearts out to convince you why Donald Trump and all the policies he stands for are the greatest thing to happen to this country and that everything is awesome.
In the spirit of being fair to both “sides” of “the news,” even though their bias and intentions are completely predictable/transparent, neither of these news organizations can really be considered “fake news” though – they just demonstrate shameless partisanship in news media
The problem is that with the existence of the internet and modern technology, there is so much raw information available to the public at large that no one person is capable of sorting through it all – this includes some journalists. It is becoming almost impossible for the average person in society to differentiate between what information is even “real” anymore and what is not and it certainly doesn’t help that billionaire corporations like Fox now admit to operating fake news sites on purpose!
Here is a quick example of how fake news events spread, throughout the course of this past week Donald Trump has been getting criticized for citing two stories at a speech in Florida that were technically “fake” – at least partially exaggerated. Although the stories had a small matter of truth to them, they have long since been debunked. Here is the problem though, the same stories that were later retracted and proven to be untrue were actually first published by Reuters in January 2016. This is important to realize because Reuters is, of course, the worlds largest press agency.
Once an organization like Reuters releases an article other news organizations around the internet jump over the story and begin to produce articles of their own. For example Breitbart went on to produced several stories about the alleged events Germany which went on to become wildly popular. However, despite Reuters and Breitbart’s coverage of rapes in January, reports later in the year, including from German police, concluded that all the initial reports of crime and mass rape were entirely inaccurate and made up. But this did not happen until months after the original reports went viral – the damage had already been done.
This is how a fake news event and irresponsible journalism in 2016 snowballed into influencing a foreign policy speech given by the President of the United States in 2017. Who knows how many other people/politicians stories like this also end up influencing over time?
Do you see the problem here though, who the hell can anyone even believe anymore? At that, who is even more to blame for this whole situation? Is it Donald Trump or the Press – honestly, you tell me?
Not to beat a dead horse, but just two weeks ago the Associated Press released a story implying that Donald Trump threatened to invade Mexico in a phone call with the countries President and the same story went on to get republished by news organizations around the internet. Even though the AP’s report was proven to be untrue it got passed around to the point where Mexico’s President had to come out with a press release of his own to tell people it was false. Along the same line as Reuters, the Associated Press happens to be THE largest collection/union of journalists in the world.
As you can see, when the Internets largest “accredited” sources of “news” can publish outright lies and make up stories at will, without facing any ramifications for doing so, what is to prevent some random blogger from making up anything they want just as well? When the largest news corporation in America, Fox, admits to creating fake news sites on purpose, what is to stop any random person in society from doing the same thing?
It is a rhetorical question, the answer is obviously nothing – hence this whole fake news crisis we are currently witness to. The point I am trying to make here is that our fake news problem is an unsolvable one and any talk to the contrary is just hopeless optimism. No one can regulate “the internet” and all of the information made available through it. At the same time, as I think I have explained, no one is entirely “right” or “wrong” when discussing news events either – that’s the whole problem to begin with!
The rise of Click-Bait and Click-Bait Journalism
The original reason I started to write this article was to discuss how click-bait websites, such as the ones Fox and many others operate, are the main drivers of fake news and extremist headlines in the media.
Considering that Steve Bannon has just become one of the most important men in the country, I hesitate to call Breitbart “fake news.” That being said, Breitbart does serve as perhaps THE most prominent/successful example of “click-bait journalism” on the internet today. To that very point, sometime late in 2016, Breitbart became the 9th most popular news website by traffic volume in the world – at only a fraction the budget/cost of their peers in the industry. How did they do this?
To attract readers, what Breitbart has championed and what many news organizations around the world are now doing is consciously creating the most controversial, flashy or sensationalized headline possible for every article. Generally speaking, the more emotionally charged, crazy, bizarre and/or extreme the headline, the more people are going to want to click on it just to see what the hell is going on.
For example, who wants to read an article entitled “How Does Fiduciary Partisanship Effect the 2016 Election” when you could read something like “Breaking: Hillary Clinton Fronts Child Sex Ring for Husband Bill” or “Breaking: Nude Pics of Donald Trump With Russian Model.”
This sort of thing is done for two reasons, to attract the most viewers as possible to a website and consequentially enough, to sell add space. The more angry or emotional you make someone feel about the headline they are reading and/or the more it catches their eye/attention, the more likely that person is going to want to engage with the content and react accordingly – either positively or negatively. The internet and internet news is a competitive marketplace and each site is fighting for their own stake of the market.
What you need to understand is that many websites only have the capital to operate and pay their writers through the ad revenue they generate from their site. Every time you see an ad on any website you happen to be browsing, that website is actually getting paid a small amount of money for you having seen it – even if you don’t interact with the ad itself. The more people click your article, come to your page and see these advertisements, the more money the site gains.
This is what is refereed to as “click-bait” or “click-bait journalism” and this is the phenomenon sweeping across the entire news industry right now. Consequentially, this is also the reason you are getting used hearing about so many crazy stories in the news these days.
Tying all of this back in with the news at the lead of this article, I find it very disheartening that one of the largest corporations in America now admits to operating several of these click-bait sites – especially considering Fox already hosts the United States #1 news network based on television ratings. It also tells me a lot about their moral code of conduct in everything else the company might try to “sell” to the American public.
Some people say “The Russians!” are responsible for making up all of these weird/crazy news events as some sort of political propaganda to undermine America, but as you can see by all the news this past week and hopefully within this article, you need not look any further than the good ole US of A and Capitalistic greed to find the real culprit.
You might also notice that Alternative Medi4 refuses to sell ad space on this site and I am the only one on staff, this is because I am trying to do everything possible to remain credible to my readers – all while hemorrhaging thousands to do so. It is just a shame these already rich folk like Fox are not willing to do the same for their readers – you’re welcome.
This Content Was Created Under An Alt_Publishers License