It is incredibly rare you will see me comment on a presidential tweet. I don't think it's a productive way to govern. However, messages like this are dangerous and do actual harm.

Which brings me to this #SundaySoapbox, the press.

It is absolutely acceptable to criticize the press for specific actions on a specific story (excluding information, using bad optics, bias, etc).

I do this all the time.

It's also very important to be aware that different publications have different focus. You aren't going to get the same story from @HuffPostPol that will from @FoxNews.

Absorb this information accordingly, including adjusting your expectations on quality.

You don't expect the same experience or quality from a @McDonalds as a @RuthsChris, nor should you.

It's fine to have both, but maybe not daily McD's for your health and expect to pay a bit more for the steakhouse so they have the resources for a quality cut.

If you know you are consuming junk food, don't pretend it's steak.

Leave the nutty stories for Hollywood.

Journalism plays a vital role in democracy. Good journalism helps us know when people are honest and when people are doing their job (or not).

Unpleasant facts are not the same thing as fake news. Fake news is a term we just shouldn't use.

Either a story is true and accurate, or not true. There is certainly with some room for perspective if it's an opinion piece, but basic facts should be constant.

If the story is accurate and complete, but still unfavorable to you, consider that the issue *might* not be the journalism.


The above isn't new.

What I would like to focus on is solutions out of this gross place we've let journalism and criticism thereof go to.

If someone uses the term "fake news", consider why they are using it, and whether they have an interest in the story.

Here is the thing about fake news...

It's on us.

If we don't reject the term, it will become a permanent part of our daily lives blurring the line between unpleasant facts and untrue statements.

If a "journalist" calls something "fake news" because they don't like it, say something to the station/publication that you cannot take them seriously while they use that term, then STOP WATCHING that show or subscribing to that source.

If you see someone on twitter, facebook, insta, proclaiming "fake news" for a seemingly true story they don't like the facts of, point that out and then unfollow. Decrease the audience.

If you know someone personally who uses the term "fake news", politely ask them why and what part of a story they think is fake. Engage in a respectful conversation that challenges the use of the term "fake news".

If it's untrue, agree it's untrue not fake news.

If the "fake news" is really true with a bias, call it true with a bias.

If it's just true, but unpleasant, correct the terminology. You don't have to be fancy about it, say "yeah, it's true but it sucks".

If you catch yourself using the term "fake news", consider why you do it.

Do you not believe it? If so, how do you fact check it? Do that, and instead use terms like true, false, or part true.

Do you not like the information but it's true? Think deep about that.

Don't contribute to a world being needlessly dangerous for people doing their jobs.

Would you recommend murdering coal miners because it's a polluting source?

No, that would be insane.

Using the term "fake news" puts journalists in harms way.

Journalists cover stories that are newsworthy.

If you don't like their mix, think they are too hard on a group, think they are omitting a group, etc., help make our news better by providing that feedback.

Instead of treating journalists as the enemy, which they most certainly are not, treat them like a partner in how information is shared.

Give basic respect, push back/mute appropriately, communicate, clarify, and consume unpleasant facts with grace.

If you haven't done so...

✔ Drop a note to a journalist you think is doing a good job

✔ Pay for a subscription to a reputable news source so there are the resources to fact check

✔ Stop using the term "fake news"


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