Fake news has become a tragic byproduct of the digital/social age, and new research from global comms agency LEWIS now shows that a vast majority—78 percent—of Americans feel that fake news has damaged the overall credibility of the media industry.
The firm’s research team conducted a survey of roughly one thousand Americans to understand how fake news affects the general public’s media consumption habits and how it is impacting their perception of American news and brands.
From a generational point of view, baby boomers have the strongest opinion—82 percent of that generation said fake news has damaged the reputation of the industry. That number drops slightly to 79 percent among millennials and 72 percent among Gen Xers.
“The survey clearly shows that fake news has damaged the average American’s perception of the media,” Bill Donlan, media Strategist at LEWIS, told Bulldog Reporter. “As a result, media outlets have a lot of work to do to regain this credibility. Traditional reporting and fact checking will be more critical than ever. This will likely be a difficult hurdle to overcome as advertising revenues shrink and newsroom layoffs increase.”
Social media is the chief culprit
Another key takeaway is that 57 percent of respondents credited social media platforms as the biggest source of fake news, with another 51 percent saying those social networks are most responsible for proliferating fake news stories.
Interestingly, respondents want social networks to do something about it. Seventy-two percent said social networks like Facebook and Twitter should block fake news on their websites.
“Even though Facebook and Twitter, the two social networks most abused by fake news, are making attempts, respondents made it clear that social networks need to do more when it comes to monitoring and identifying fake news,” said Donlan.
Journalists say their hands are tied
This sentiment was shared by journalists who participated in a series of Fake News Media Panels hosted by LEWIS across the country.
“From our panel discussions, many journalists noted that social networks will need to assume responsibility for identifying and blocking fake news,” Donlan added. “But, they also acknowledged media’s role in the lack of credibility, saying variables like reduced staff for fact-checking, reporting mistakes or publishing exaggerations have added to the spread of fake news.”