Comstock's magazine 0419 - April 2019 - Page 20

n WORTH NOTING buzzwords fake news READERS SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS /fāk/ /n(y)o͞oz/ FAKE NEWS Deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media BY Vanessa Labi We Must Think Locally to End Homelessness by Ben Avey of Sacramento Steps Forward Have something to say? Email us. editorial@comstocksmag.com. 20 comstocksmag.com | April 201 9 A lthough “fake news” seems to have emerged from today’s political climate, it’s hardly a new concept. Some American newspapers were printing fabricated in- formation back in the 17th century. What’s new is how “fake news” is now used as a weapon to discredit real news with an intent to deceive. It also now has the power to gain traction via social media. As a buzzword, it has taken on such a life of its own that many of us now say it ironically as a punchline in office culture. THE BUZZ “Fake news [refers to] articles, videos, memes, photographs that are factually inaccurate and designed to deceive,” says Sacramento State journalism professor Molly Dugan. From a doctored photo of a shark swimming down a North Carolina highway, to slander- ous political reporting, fake news can really run the bogus gamut. So, which journalistic concepts do not constitute fake news? Honest mistakes like misspellings or wrong dates, strong opinions or biases are all separate. Dugan says the latter tends to cause the most confusion: “Bias isn’t actually factually inaccurate; it’s only telling one part of the story, so it lacks context and can lead people to a faulty conclusion. It’s just not enough fact for us to understand the issue. Fake news is something that is factually inaccurate with the intent to deceive without any basis in any kind of fact. Intent is a big part of it.” THE WORD We’ve always had to wade through a certain amount of false information, but the dif- ference is now it’s particularly easy to spread. Gone are the days when a small number of publications and television stations provided us the news (with trained reporters and fact-checkers working behind the scenes). Now, countless platforms exist where essen- tially anyone can act as publisher. Dramatic stories grounded in falsehoods rather than truth tend to attract the most eyeballs and gain the most traction. Dugan cites an alarming 2018 study from MIT Me- dia Lab: “It took truth six times as long to reach people than a falsehood [on Twitter]. Fake news spreads because it’s dramatic — it’s something that people will listen to.” With phony media outlets becoming more sophisticated with their tactics, what can we do to be more discerning consumers of news and media? Dugan recommends peo- ple look at the source: “Have you heard of this source? Go to [fact-checking website], Snopes.com and check it out. If you’ve never heard of the website, Google the story and see if there are any legitimate news sources that are reporting the same thing.” The educator challenges her own students to look at examples of fake news and real news to fine-tune their judgement and examine their own biases. In this politically polar- ized climate, being critical is a muscle we’re all challenged to exercise. Rachael Taylor: ...I work with Sacramento Self- Help Housing and we are always looking for rental homes to utilize throughout the greater Sacramento and Stockton areas to house indi- viduals in a safe and loving environment. We pay rent, we provide resources and connect individu- als to housing and services. My own family lost their home in the Camp Fire. Remember that these are our neighbors. Our own humans to care for. It’s on us. It’s on you. Visitor: How come no one is mentioning that redevelopment of Downtown due to the arena is partial cause of homelessness. Hotels that were once affordable housing and long time residences for the now homeless, such as the Sequoia, Bilt- more and the Barry, were or are being converted to facilities more suited for the folks with means. Also, the multi-family housing project at 12th and Richards is gone, too. Broadway redevelopment is threatening the multi-family housing project. Folks with means took/are taking Oak Park over. If you take away affordable housing for poor folks, where do you expect them to go if there is noth- ing out there but the streets and empty fields? Isela Perez: I agree, we must think locally. My partner Brandon and I are looking to contribute by building tiny homes as transitional housing for those experiencing homelessness. It's what we as a micro-factory can do to help now. Any leads that would help us gain traction toward creating a tiny home village would be much appreciated. ILLUSTRATION: Jason Balangue