On September 6th Andy Borowitz, writing for The New Yorker, published an article titled G20 ENDS ABRUPTLY AS OBAMA CALLS PUTIN A JACKASS which has caused quite a stir on social media. He claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama went on a name calling tirade, hurling insults at his Russian nemesis Vladimir Putin.
The article is pure satire but from the activity I’ve witnessed on facebook and twitter, many people are under the impression that it’s fact and that’s a shame because nothing could be further from the truth. How do I know this? Because there isn’t one single news outlet besides The New Yorker with a corroborating story – and trust me, if it was true every news site on the web would be running it!
Yes, there are dozens of smaller blogs which have copied and pasted it in it’s entirety directly from the New Yorker site but there are no other original reports written by anyone other than Borowitz. It’s also obvious as you scan through Borowitz’s other articles that all of his “work” is simply satire. Many of them make me wish they were true, but none of them are. To back up my assertion that it’s false I offer this rather in depth analysis of the fictitious report. In Borotwitz’s defense, The New Yorker is a newsy, entertainment type magazine and not a news agency.
But misleading information is just that and there can be huge consequences when the funny story happens to involve political leaders currently engaged in determining whether or not they’re gonna blow up the damned world. I wish The New Yorker would put forth more of an effort to label Andy’s work as satire, but scanning the article page I can’t find a single reference denoting it as such.
What are the implications of deceitful news journalism? Why do people do it and why should they stop? IMMEDIATELY!
The share counters on The New Yorker article, at the time of this writing, are approaching 100k with about 10k more added hourly. But that’s just share stats … the actual page views, based on my experience with news website monetization, of 100k facebook shares would be around 300k-500k page views for such a hot article. Based on the average news website’s CPC(cost per click) of just google adsense alone, that’s potentially thousands of dollars of ad revenue – ultimately depending on how long it remains popular. But that’s just monetization – there’s also a huge benefit to The New Yorker website because that much social media activity, which is now Google’s number one ranking factor, helps boost their rankings in all the major search engines. Alot! So they earn more from more traffic, which causes them to become more popular, which causes their rankings to rise even higher, on and on …. to infinity. I consider this stealing when the page views are the result of a fabricated news article – especially one which dupes the public into thinking that it’s true. And these are the least of the consequences of dishonest news reporting intended to mislead unsuspecting visitors into sharing, reading and clicking; fabricated news has a much more sinister implication – the discrediting of those who are gullible enough to buy in to it and then share it as if it were true! (don’t feel bad, keep reading – you’ll figure out how to end this vicious cycle once and for all, if you are willing to do your homework).
Anyone who reads DCX regularly knows this isn’t an Obama friendly environment, but I stop short of fabricating news articles – even about The One, because it could damage not only my credibility but also the credibility of truthful news reporting in general. There’s been numerous “news-worthy” appearing websites pop up recently specializing in satirical news articles which, at first glance appear to be genuine. I’m totally against that entire concept because it muddies an already choppy body of political water – one that’s becoming more and more difficult for the average reader to navigate. Bloggers and many reputable journalist as well have realized that real, honest, truthful news reporting is hard work and doesn’t draw the page views and clicks that simply “conjuring up” a sensationalized story out of thin air does(not to mention that’s much much less work, aye AB?). An entire ocean of news websites and blogs, this one included, have sprung up in recent years and now there’s a dozen of them on every internet street corner in town. So how does the news ‘consumer’ differentiate between truth and satire? How do you know that post you’re about to make on facebook leads to a truthful news article? Well, there’s no 100% foolproof way … but there are some tactics which can help you avoid spreading deceit.
First – a truthful report will typically, not always, but typically contain at least one, sometimes many, glowing hyperlinks which point back to the authors main source of information. To verify the source you simply click the link and away you go. When you land on the source page – and if that page is owned by a reputable agency – it’s a pretty safe bet to assume the report is true. But there are exceptions to that rule, as The New Yorker has proven in this instance with it’s “Obama called Putin a jackass” report, which has been duplicated on other sites across the web by the dozens … simply copied and pasted into blogs and published without any of the authors questioning the authenticity. But why? Why would an honest blog owner copy and paste an article that isn’t true? Because the source of the information is the very well respected and reputable The New Yorker. They see the hot story, they see the fancy website, they see the big, bold, black letters spelling out the name of a magazine which has been around for ages – and they assume the story is legit. Don’t assume anything is legit if there isn’t corroborating evidence, in triplicate, from sources you know and respect. And then, even then, you should check to make sure the author doesn’t specialize in political humor or satire.
So .. even if you find yourself reading a very reputable website’s version of a news article, you should still return to the search engine of your choice and perform a check of the main keywords which your story of interest is about. If it’s legit you’ll see search engine results from varying news agencies – ALL WITH DIFFERENTLY WORDED TITLES. And that’s so important that I had to all-cap-it. Legitimate news sources DO NOT COPY AND PASTE titles or content. If you search for an article and all of the results in the search engine query come back as duplicates, one after the other all the way down the page – RED FLAG! Legit articles will always, ALWAYS, be written and re-written and so will their titles.
The consequences of deceitful news for the Patriot movement, which is firmly opposed to the tactics and policies of President Obama, are HUGE! Trust me, there are plenty of disparaging reports based on truth out there – we don’t need to conjure up fictitious ones. There’s nothing that tickles a socialist democrat more than seeing conservatives sharing inaccurate news stories and passing them off as true to their friends on social media – especially if it revolves around Barack Obama. Too many times I’ve seen false news stories, or sometimes even doctored-up photo’s – being shared and commented on by good people who were duped into believing they were genuine. Many times those bits and pieces of content are actually created by and leaked into our network in an attempt to make us look foolish – just so they can come along later after it was proven to be false – point their finger, laugh – and imply that we’re not to be trusted or believed … and everything we say about the President, or anyone else in the political arena, must surely be false – surely our convictions are based on some other lie that we were eager to swallow.