Ella York - Teen Aspect - June 7th, 2022
In the age of the Internet, it’s an undeniable fact that the world is more connected than ever. I could be in my home in Florida and still have the ability to talk to someone in Australia. If you ask me, that’s pretty incredible. Yet even then, I’ve lived my entire life in this new era; the capabilities of the Internet don’t amaze me in the ways that they do those who have lived their lives without it.
But there is one thing that we’ve all been told for as long as the Internet’s been around, and it points to a side effect that isn’t positive: ‘Don’t believe what you read on the Internet.’ It’s a phrase that my generation seems to know like the back of their hand. Just because it’s a headline doesn’t mean it’s reliable.
Anyone can put anything on the Internet. And more often than not, most of it isn’t true.
Now, this wasn’t always the case; misinformation, at the scale we see it at now, seems to be a problem of the modern-day.
And yet, it’s not as though we constantly had fact-checkers making sure that every newspaper released before the Internet was completely accurate. Before the Internet, it seems that journalism was far more reliable.
So, what gives?
Well, I believe that the answer lies within the simple fact that releasing false news before the Internet wasn’t a profitable, feasible business. People read newspapers because they wanted to stay informed of current events. They weren’t going to waste their time and money on a source they knew wasn’t trustworthy.
But the Internet has provided a way for false facts to invade every organization and every business.
It’s become easier than ever for people to put whatever they want online, and the average person doesn’t particularly care if what they’re saying is accurate. There’s been an uncontrollable tidal wave of information that’s been put out into the world. And now, there’s no incentive to check it.
Even though there’s been an influx in false news, it doesn’t quite explain why even large and respected news teams have fallen victim to the fictional narratives.
Again, the answer lies with the Internet.
In order to get readers and be profitable, the model of the news outlet has adapted to a generation that is constantly absorbing information. When scrolling through Twitter or Instagram or whatever social media site you favor, you are constantly digesting new information. And it’s a fast-paced experience.
If you see a TikTok that doesn’t capture your attention within the first few seconds, you’re probably going to scroll down. If a tweet isn’t interesting, you won’t finish reading it.
Journalists today have quite the unique challenge; they need to write something interesting enough to grab people’s attention, while also being factual. One of those things takes precedence, and it certainly isn’t the latter.
As long as an article gets views, readers, or likes, it makes money. Whether that be from some online news subscription or money from advertising, the articles that get traction are the ones that get money.
And in the modern hustle-era, money is one of the most valued things there are. To company leaders, an increase in profits is worth more than any reputation of reliability could ever be. No matter what they say, the point of the news is to turn a profit, not to enhance your knowledge.
And this lack of care about accuracy isn’t because this generation is less moral, not by any means. It’s because when there are errors, it’s considerably easier to cover them up.
With the sheer volume of pieces released, companies have much less difficulty hiding falsities in the jungle of the Internet. Things that they don’t want the general public to read, whether that be due to blatant lies or accidental misinformation, can disappear into the woodwork. After all, with all the media now available for consumption, the chance that a bad article is going to go viral is much lower now than it was even five years ago.
But even with the rise of ‘fake news’, the Internet has not been entirely bad for journalism. There are plenty of writers that still care about providing people with reliable news, and the Internet has made it easier for them to reach their audiences. Even Teen Aspect would’ve struggled to succeed if it hadn’t been for the Internet.
All in all, it’s clear that the Internet has changed the field of journalism forever. There’s no changing what’s already happened, but we can strive to be better and more reliable every day.
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