Americans need to be more conscious of the news they consume

By HADASSAH EDELKOPF
On December 10, 2019

Photo courtesy of reuters.com

Alongside Reuters and Ipsos, Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has published a poll on how Americans see disinformation in their news.

Reuters/Ipsos gathered responses from 11 questions that were categorized by Democratic and Republican responses, which were also combined for the overall statistics. The Sept. 20-23 poll was organized responses from more than 1,000 respondents over the three days it collected the public’s opinions.

One of the statistics revealed that 46.3 percent of Americans believe that some of the news they consume is disinformation. The statistic was 47.1 percent for Democrats and 49.6 percent for Republicans.

The average is similar for believing news on social media: 47.5 percent. There is only a small percentage difference between Democrats and Republicans, 51.9 percent and 46.6 percent respectively. 

A 2018 Knight Foundation study titled “Disinformation, ‘Fake News’ and Influence Campaigns on Twitter,” completed by Matthew Hindman from George Washington University and Vlad Barash from Graphika, was quoted as saying, “Consistent with other research, we find more than 6.6 million tweets linking to fake and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election.”

“Yet disinformation continues to be a substantial problem postelection, with 4.0 million tweets linking to fake and conspiracy news publishers found in a 30-day period from mid-March to mid-April 2017,” their findings continued.

Despite the political divide that has swept the nation, there is common ground when people are worrying about disinformation infiltrating everyday news. Disinformation plagues both readers and journalists with its widespread influence. 

“Fake and conspiracy news sites received about 13 percent as many Twitter links as a comparison set of national news outlets did, and 37 percent as many as a set of regional newspapers,” Hindman and Barash’s study read.

The six questions that asked about disinformation had similar percentage responses from both parties. Due to the advent of people talking about fake news for the last four years, and the onslaught of social media, we all receive large amounts of information through the course of our day, and it would seem like most Americans do not feel that most of the information they receive is accurate. They feel that most information people receive is disinformation.

Though media may have people think that only Democratic voters believe there is fake news, when nearly 50 percent of voters feel that there is disinformation in the media. 

According to the poll, 46.6 percent of people believe the news that they hear on TV: 51.1 percent of Republicans and 41.8 percent of Democrats. The statistics are almost the same regarding newspapers, magazines and online news reports. 

When it comes to trusting the information in speeches from presidential candidates, 28.8 percent of Democrats versus 45.6 percent of Republicans sometimes or very often believe they are sources of disinformation. 

In today’s world, people are so impacted by news and politics that the relationships people have with one another are changing: couples are breaking up, spouses are getting divorced, and people stop talking to friends because of their political views.

Since politics and information have such a strong impact on us individually and through our relationships, we should be receiving information that is accurate. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and today people can express their opinions to anyone and everyone through social media, but fake news is where we must draw the line. 

 

hedelkop@ramapo.edu

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