Is imitation always the most sincere form of flattery?
Although fake news is, well… fake, it still is an important portion of modern media. It comes in many forms, such as websites with fake or satirical news articles, such as www.theonion.com, advertisements which disguise themselves as news, and one commonly overlooked example would be the manipulation from the corporate PR world.
I believe that reading over fake news helps us understand, or even just pay more attention to the real news in our society. Once the issue can be poked fun at, means that a new understanding of its meaning has been achieved, thus benefiting from a combination of the fake and real news sources. For example, in class when we watch Tina Fey’s incredible impersonation of Sarah Palin. This impersonation of Palin showed the public that Fey wasn’t stretching the impersonation too far, and Palin actually acted in such a manner in reality. Without this satirical new glimpse then many traits of Palin would have not been noticed on such a huge level as these skits made them out to be.
In the book “Toxic Sludge is Good For You; Lies, Damn lies and the Public Relations Industry”, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton unveiled many cases of fake news and public manipulation that I could have never even imagined. One of my favorite examples of this ‘management’ was reading about the Conference held by the Foundation for Public Affairs for the activist groups where they basically picked the brains of all the activists for their own market research and to ‘determine how and which activists can be coopted” (Stauber, Rampton, 69). This basically was a fake conference help by PR executives, and the activists had no idea. This along with many other examples from the book opened my eyes and made me realize that nothing is done by a corporation that hasn’t been decided by a room full of PR representatives. Regardless of the fact behind the issue, all that matters is what the public thinks, and what information is available to them; meaning that if they control the information (such as the PR executives controlled the conference) you control the public (the activists).
However important and interesting fake news is to the overall communications world, understanding that it is lack of truth is also very important. Theonion.com is a good example; this website is so polished and professional looking, it could easily be mistaken as real news. To not get stuck in the fake news trap it is very important to survey other media to constantly understand events and issues of society, because if you already have prior knowledge of the subject matter, you will then get to enjoy the joke, and not be the joke.
-Sydney C. Lashko