Fake news. You’ve probably heard it about a million (rough estimate) times throughout the last year or two and have been warned to watch out for ‘fake news’ stories in the ‘media.’
Fake news is nothing new. The National Enquirer and similar publications have made their money on producing tabloid journalism for decades. Tabloid journalism was easily recognizable to the average observer. Stories were so blatantly false that it would seem impossible for a person to actually consider the headlines “news.” But now, (possibly due to the recent election, but you never know for sure) fake news has become something barely distinguishable from actual news stories. And that’s where the problem lies.
The emergence of social networking sites and online news publications over the past several years has given people all around the world the opportunity to share their thoughts, memories, and stories with others.
Some people have taken this opportunity to have stories shared around the world instantly to put ‘fake news’ into the internet. The stories have the appearance of real news stories. Sometimes including images or video to add to the validity of the story. In some instances, a major news organization will pick up the story before it is properly fact checked. An embarrassing and costly blunder.
The Huffington Post is a news organization that would appear to be easily targeted by fake news stories.
- It’s online only. Most fake news stories are spread through online sources such as social media sites.
- A large part of the online stories come from contributors not exclusively affiliated with the Huffington Post. (Bloggers that could basically by anybody)
- The website has a clear bias. Plenty of news organizations have a bias (which is not necessarily a bad thing) but strong biases can lead to inaccuracies in reporting. If a fake story falls in line with the liberal bias of the Huffington Post and its audience, who will care to fact-check?
So what is the Huffington Post doing to combat the epidemic of fake news?
The Huffington Post has published several articles on it’s website about how to avoid falling victim to a ‘fake news’ story.
The articles often give anecdotal advice to readers regarding being tricked by a fake news story as well as advice on how to recognize and avoid fake news.
The simplest advice was given by contributor Natalie Jackson in her article ‘Fake News’ Is Real. Here’s How To Know If You’re Reading It. “Question everything and use multiple sources.”
While these tips are helpful to some, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the everyday American to find multiple sources for every article or news story they read in a day.
Though the articles on it’s own website make me believe the Huffington Post has not shared any fake news stories, I did find an article on “The Resurgent.com” claiming that the Huffington Post had written an article that was an “egregiously fake news story.”
The article in question was from December and claimed that Hilary Clinton could become president based on a ruling from a 1995 court case. The Resurgent article claimed that the information was misleading as there was no legal precedent for this action.
But, following the tips outlined by the Huffington Post, I noticed that The Resurgent was a far right leaning publication and checked the original Huffington Post article myself which was updated recently in order to more accurately explain how the court case could have affected the presidency.
It seems that the article was not exactly ‘fake news,’ more like ‘misleading’ news. Though misleading news can still be just as offensive and harmful.
It’s hard to say whether or not the Huffington Post will publish fake news stories. (This is the era of alternative facts after all.) I’d like to hope that somewhere at the Huffington Post headquarters there is a person or team diligently fact checking every story that attempts to make it’s way onto the site.
Also, during my News Track on fake news, I did find this article about Seth Meyer’s “fake news” press conference with Donald Trump. The video is the funniest form of fake news and I recommend you watch! (Gets a little dicey at the end, but still hilarious)
This week when I checked Huffington Post I focused on how it uses Instagram and photos on its other platforms.
On Instagram I noticed that Huffington Post doesn’t use their own photos in posts. Typically the Huffington Post will repost the photos or videos of their followers with captions about the news.
The Huffington Post Instagram is listed under “Arts & Entertainment” which I found interesting for a news organization, not so interesting for the Huffington Post because of it’s blog like style of reporting. Based on this the Bio “Tag your pics #huffpostgram and we’ll regram our favorites! They might even go on HuffPost.com”, I can assume that the Instagram is not utilized as a news sharing platform. Instead, Huffington Post uses Instagram as a way to get in touch with its followers.
The posts from the Huffington Post Instagram account are all regarded photos with captions that are fun and quirky. The kind of Instagram captions I would use on my own personal Instagram. Since the Instagram is used as a way to connect with readers/viewers/etc. I think these captions are completely appropriate and in line with the other Huffington Post’s other social media platforms.
The Huffington Post Twitter page is full of photos. Almost every tweet is accompanied by a photo. Similarly to its Instagram, the Twitter also reposts readers/viewers tweets, another way to connect with their audience.
If Twitter was a competition to have the most photos on a timeline, The Huffington Post is doing very well. However, because ALL of the posts have pictures (even the retweeted posts have pictures) it becomes a little like overkill. There’s no reason that every single post needs a picture to tag along. I like pictures with tweets, I think it can really add to the message of the post and provide the ready with a visual, but there comes point when the reader doesn’t need to be inundated with photographs. The redundancy of pictures takes away from the benefit of using pictures.
However, I’m looking at the Huffington Post Twitter all at once. When I took a step back and looked at it from a simpler perspective, as someone who frequents Twitter, the pictures were not as – for lack of a better word- aggressive. In a regular time line of tweets, I think the photos are successful, still a little much, but successful nonetheless.
The Huffpost feed on Super Bowl Sunday featured a healthy blend of Super Bowl related articles and standard new pieces.
The Huffpost featured the obligatory coverage of the game results, the intense plays/players, and the halftime show. But the majority of the Super Bowl articles were directed towards the advertisements shown during the broadcast.
The beloved tradition of watching the Super Bowl Sunday ads got political this year and the Huffington Post celebrated and shared the messages.
The articles covering the ads took similar approaches, focusing on how the ad tied itself to current political issues.
From women’s rights issues and the wage gap to Donald Trump’s immigration ban, the Super Bowl commercials this year didn’t shy away from the issues.
Huffpost tackled the ads in a very blog appropriate way. The writers broke down each ad, explaining what product the commercial was advertising, a transcript of the dialog, described any press releases from the company, showed tweets from both those for and against the commercial and finally had the ads themselves embedded into the article.
I liked how the articles praised the huge companies running the Super Bowl ads for using their platform to spread messages of acceptance, love, and equality.
Huffpost took very uplifting angles while discussing the Super Bowl advertisements this year, and as someone who does not care about the Super Bowl at all, I appreciated its focus on something besides the actual event.
For any internet browser The Huffington Post is a clear proponent of the liberal agenda.
I’m not saying I mind. In fact the headlines often make me feel better about my own liberal-esque ideology, as I’m sure they’re meant to.
To say the Huffington Post audience is left-leaning is an understatement.
The Huffington Post was created by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti in order to serve as a liberal counterpart to more conservative news media sites, notably the Drudge Report.
The Huffington Post is unique in that it mainly features blog posts from unpaid commentators as well as celebrity blog posts.
Although there is no mission statement on its website or its affiliated sites, a columnist for the Huffington Post, Lisa Belkin, claimed the vision of HP was “to build the 21st century newsroom.”
The Huffington Post uses social media heavily, producing articles and content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. HP relies on social media users to share its content. The share-ability of the posts tie in to the “vision” of the Huffington Post, engaging its audience in a very “21st century” way. The young liberal audience that HP targets continues to get their news from social media sites rather than watching on television or even visiting news sites. The Huffington Post uses headlines and captions that appeal to its audience in order to increase the likelihood of it being shared.
Tracking The Huffington Post, I noticed that because of the blog style set up it was at times hard to differentiate between opinion pieces about the news and fact based stories about the news. I followed HP mainly on social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) and found they almost blended in with posts from my friends when it came to posts regarding politics.
Overall I think The Huffington Post is achieving its goal of bringing the newsroom into the 21st century by using social media and employing bloggers to tell the news. The liberal perspective is engaging without coming off too biased while the continuous updates of stories across social media and its website keep readers coming back. The Huffington Post is whole-heartedly embracing multimedia journalism.