Let’s put aside the Trumpisms and denials for a moment, and concentrate on the facts, before the whole media apparatus is infected by fools, opportunists, and political bandits. Why? Because if we don’t, in the future we will never know what the truth is, and worse still, we will stop believing in good honest journalism. In fact, we might stop believing in anything at all!
Most of the infection has been introduced via the social pages, and mainly via blogs which rely on page visits to pay advertising revenue – or is it the Russians? The Balkan news Magazine is no exception, although, so far we have not tried to convince our readers that Donald Trump is a Moldavian transvestite, and that Theresa May is the love child of Joseph Stalin. It is simply not true, but were I to pretend that it was, then I am sure that my pension would go a lot further than it presently does.
Newspapers and magazines are different. These days the news goes dry in minutes, and so a quick apology on page ten – next to an advert for second hand grommets– is usually quite enough to keep the litigious at bay. But with a magazine things are quite different, which is why one has to research the facts, no matter how disturbing they may be. This is due to the long levity of magazine content, especially if it is a monthly, and partly due to the mentality of its readers.
With some blogs and social media, there is often no story to speak of, because it is what we used to call gossip, or even scandal. It was once explained to me in terms of writing down some scandal on a piece of paper, then ripping the evidence into tiny pieces, and letting the little bits blow away in the wind. The outcome might seem irrelevant to most of us, but is it? And where does it leave our imaginary plaintiff, having been successfully sued for millions by an aggrieved litigant?
What if a judge might say that they do not have to pay their fine, if they go and collect all the little pieces of paper, and convey the evidence back to court, will all be forgiven? Well, what do you think might happen, because surely, the damage by then would have been done?
The question is, is false news funny? Most of the false news scandal mongers claim it is all a joke, but many clearly have a very odd sense of humour. When their drivel occupies the headlines, causing constant denial from government spokesmen, or emotional rebukes from embittered stars of stage, screen, or even from Rupert Murdoch himself, is that all a bit of a laugh?
In the UK, most thick skinned politicians are wise enough to appear to laugh at themselves, the extent and degree of their victimization, being at the total discretion of various news editors and writers. But with social media there is very little restraint, and because it is pernicious and can be distributed – either purposely or in error – this is mainly how it succeeds to enter our lives. Let’s take your average punter on Facebook, for example.
If you receive what FB calls news, it does not only come from people you know, because it may be a paid insertion, or even something you inadvertently liked or responded to in the past. Also, if you decide to share, you might be sharing, not only with your intended recipient, but with the rest of the Facebook world . Very often, FB’s are not so savvy about who they pick and choose to read their stuff, because they truly believe that it is destined exclusively for their ‘real friends,’ but, not so dear readers! This is also increasingly becoming the case with Twitter, and of course to some extent with Google, Yahoo and the rest. By searching the web, you might pick up some false news – or even worse, one of DJT’s tweets or rants – and so wherever you go on the internet, traps have been set for you.
On the side of reality, the internet does rule our lives – even dinosaurs might agree – and most of us oldies have become used to using a computer to fulfil many of our needs This is especially so in the Balkans, where many of our requirements are somewhat specialized – buying Marmite, Branston Pickle, or Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers, just to name a few – but also our need for information and especially news.
I read lots of newspapers each day – those that don’t want any money, that is – many of which are becoming vastly under resourced, and – rather like The Balkan News Magazine itself – they ask for donations in order to keep their journalists happy. But, what you are hopefully paying for, is not only good journalism, but also for the journalist’s personal integrity.
What if we all decided to take the ‘False News’ commercial route, and fill the blogosphere with total crap. What would you do then? Well, you might have to become a philosopher, because there would be no other way of discovering what the truth is!