Editorial: Journalists needed now more than ever


Donald Trump tweeted “The Fake News media is officially out of control. They will do or say anything in order to get attention – never been a time like this!” in May of 2017.

Whether you support Trump or not, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to detect “fake news.” Since the 2016 election, the terms “fake news,” and “alternative facts,” have become common hashtags, tweet topics and led to many debates.

Alternative facts are, simply put, lies and the opposite of facts. Twitter, Facebook and even mainstream media have all been victims of the fake news stories. Hours after the Las Vegas shooting, fake news stories spread on social media. People were looking for information, and without even knowing it, accidentally spread stories of ISIS involvement, multiple shooters and photos of a man wrongly identifying the shooter on twitter and Facebook.

Yet, not even the reporters and the news is immune to fake stories. Some of the alternative news stories include photoshopped images of the Seattle Seahawks burning an American flag and a shark swimming streets during Hurricane Harvey.

It is imperative that we as consumers and journalists learn the differences between fake and real facts. A couple weeks ago, WU Student Media held a skill shop focused on educating students about alternative facts, propaganda and how to think critically about news stories.

One of the things we showed students was the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. The basis of the Code of Ethics is to “Seek Truth and Report It.” This includes taking responsibility for the accuracy of our work, providing context, identifying sources clearly and gathering, updating, as well as correcting information.

Writers and editors for the Washburn Review take extreme care in what is written in the paper and work to follow the Code of Ethics. This includes issuing apologies when mistakes are found; working to keep opinions out of the news and making sure that the facts are true, not “alternative.” While fake news continues to permeate our culture, it is our job as consumers to be educated and our job as reporters to change current perceptions of journalism and the media.