There was a time, not too long ago, when the only source of news was the revered newspaper. There weren’t many. Some were local while many were regional. Just a few publications had nationwide circulation. Then came television and of course there was radio to broadcast bulletins but their outreach was confined to specific territories. Over the years, electronic media developed and we started relying on primetime news. Soon, we had 24/7 news channels and there were hundreds of news outlets. Ever since news became a business, the authenticity of reports, intentions or opinions have been questioned. Today, as we see the emergence of new technologies and new mediums of sharing news, one has to reflect on the pros and cons.
Dissipation of news has become extremely easy. One doesn’t need a television or newspaper subscription, one doesn’t need to hook to a radio station or be at the crossroads to access newsstands. One can simply use the mobile phone, check out a website, access the app of a news organization, check out Twitter or social networks like Facebook and get their daily dose of news. The industry has become so frantic that most publications or media organizations keep publishing and sharing new news items almost every minute. When it is early morning or evening, the handles or pages become busier with posts every few seconds.
The new technologies have empowered people. Anyone with access to these free platforms can share news. The dissipation or sharing of news happens in real time. There are multiple channels that reproduce the news and thus share it with an even greater audience. There are conflicting or contrarian opinions which make for a healthy debate and more importantly, the people can participate in such exchanges. When everything seems to be working in favor of news, there is a question that begs for an answer. Can all news be deemed equally reliable?
We have all seen how rumors, false stories and speculations are planted and share as news. We have all observed how private messages or pranks across social media or social networks and even messaging apps have eventually branded as news. Anyone can claim to be the source of a piece of news but who vets it, who can say with certainty that the information being shared is not manufactured or in some private interest rather than public good?
Social media, apps and websites are a great way to stay informed, updated and to quickly get the news that matters. However, relying on questionable sources, fueling anxiety or spreading information that can be outright falsehood or speculative at best should be avoided. There are credible sources of news and then there are spinners or rewriters. The same news is broken by multiple media companies when it is actually not the case. Most web based news organizations don’t have any presence on the ground. They simply spin what has already been published.
Therefore, by freeing the access to information, news' digitalization has made it so much easier for users to steel and miss-understand what has been written by others. So remember this, never take any piece of information for something 100% reliable.