by Hayley Golden
Fake news is circulating all around us, whether we realize it or not. With shocking and often outrageous headlines, readers are often drawn to these fake stories. To make matters worse, many of these articles spread like wildfire, creating a chain reaction of deception and misinformation that can be shared over and over again. Though fake news is nothing new, it has exploded with the increase of social media and easy internet access. This makes fake news easier to find than ever and easier to write than ever. This issue creates an impact not only on media outlets, but also on society as a whole. It challenges the credibility of genuine news sources and has the potential to disrupt the political, economic and social climate. Because of the increasing amount of fake news, it becomes even more important to take caution when looking at news stories. Furthermore, fact checking can become a useful resource when scouting out these deceitful reports.
False media creates concern about representation of religion
by Audrey Hertel
Click. Open. Refresh. Home Button. Repeat.
Every single day millions of Americans perform this same routine over and over again. Similarly, every day millions of Americans consume some sort of news whether it be through social media, television or print.
All of these media outlets provide the opportunity for individuals to consume fake news or false information.
Many point to religion as a topic of misrepresentation, including senior Diana Elizalde. Elizalde believes that religion is misrepresented because of a lack of people’s knowledge about false media. “If you don’t realize that [what you’re reading] is a fake news article, then you can believe that,” Elizalde said.
Junior Sarah Gosch agrees that religion is misrepresented due to a lack of understanding. “We don’t know what’s happening, so people make up stories,” Gosch said.
Imam Jamal Daoudi, the sermon leader from the American Muslim Institute in Omaha, said that people’s busy time and lack of interest are “valid factors why people don’t try to verify some of the info provided to them,” Daoudi said.
Theology teacher Deacon Kevin Fuller said that misrepresentation in the media is because of the money a person gets when they write a story. “If you want to sell papers or get people to go to your blog, you’re gonna have to put things out there that you think your readership is going to want to look at,” Fuller said.
Sometimes the readership includes similar-minded people. According to Fuller, these people have the same views about specific religions. “If the motivation of your readership is pretty anti- one group, and you keep fueling that, it builds up a negative image of a group,” Fuller said.
Fuller said that the bias in readership harms the validity of the story. “[Readership] can risk facts. So when that affects Christians, Jews, Muslims, anybody, is when that gets out of whack,” Fuller said.
News stories that target certain religions cause individuals to have certain feelings toward specific religions in general. Elizalde says that she has found her thoughts to be consumed by media biases and representations about Islam.
“I try not to think about it that way. Not every Muslim is like that. Even if you try not to, you think … that’s something we all have,” Elizalde said. Elizalde also said that everyone thinks about stereotypes, but it needs to change. “We also have to realize we have [thoughts of stereotyping], change it and treat them as a person,” Elizalde said.
Daoudi said that the false portrayal of Islam in the media escalated radically after 9/11. “All the Islamophobia that is happening in the United States is because after 9/11, the term of ‘Islamic terrorism’ has been used and circulated,” Daoudi said.
Daoudi said that attaching a religion to an act of violence was wrong. “This was a very big mistake from the beginning, attaching a faith or a religion to certain action. That made people paint [all] Muslims based on some bad guy’s doing,” Daoudi said.
Daoudi said that true media representation can begin when the people share their true experiences with the religion. “People need to go one further step by saying and sharing [their experiences with Islam]. [They can say], ‘We have an experience visiting the center, we know the Imam’,” Daoudi said. He also said that the media plays a part as well. “The media has to be fair,” Daoudi said.
This fairness has not been shown in the media, according to Daoudi. “Muslims or Middle Easterners or others, they will jump right away on it to say ‘Islamic terrorist’,” Daoudi said.
According to Fuller, the rapid spread of false or biased information of religions such as Islam, Judaism or Christianity can be harmful. “That’s really dangerous. We have to stop that and realize that the core of these religions is peace,” Fuller said.
Fuller said that consumers of false news can lead the change. “We can control how we react to things like that. Just double check that with other sources or people. Befriend someone that’s different than you. Take risks of meeting people with different faith traditions than you to really try and learn about what the core of that religion is,” Fuller said.
Daoudi said that change can happen with those willing to allow it. “We need to reach to those open, free-minded people,” Daoudi said.
“Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded will depend on our awareness of this problem and our response to it. At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish.” Stanford study of students’ online reasoning ability 2016.
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