Here’s some real news about fake news: half of all Americans see made-up news as a problem in the United States today, ahead of violent crime, climate change, racism, illegal immigration and even terrorism, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
The survey also confirmed that misinformation is taking a toll on people’s trust in democracy and each other. Two-thirds of people surveyed say made-up news is undermining the public’s confidence in government.
As for who is at fault, six-in-ten adults say political leaders and activists are primarily to blame, but over a third think journalists deliberately make up news. They also think that it’s up to the news media to fix this problem.
Only 20 percent of those surveyed think that the public has the responsibility to stop the spread made-up news and information even though more than half said they have shared made-up news themselves because they didn’t fact-check it before sharing.
On a more somber note, only one-in-ten think the problem will improve over the next five years.T
akeaway: The whole premise of the study of news literacy is to empower people to become their own fact-checkers. While journalists do play an important role in reducing the spread of misinformation, it is more effective to train news consumers to be their own fact-checkers. With only one-in-five Americans of that mindset, there’s a long way to go to get the people to accept this personal responsibility and train themselves to do their own fact-checking before sharing news and information.